AP: Pentagon’s second-ranking official quitting

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In the AP interview, Lynn said his successor’s biggest challenge will be managing further cuts to the defense budget while preserving military strength. Obama last spring ordered the Pentagon to come up with $400 billion in new cuts over the coming decade, and Lynn has been heading an internal review of how to do that.

“You have to recognize there is a strong need for priorities,” he said. “You can’t protect just a little bit of everything. You’re going to have to make some cleaner choices, eliminate some capabilities” and reduce the size of the military.

Traditionally, the deputy defense secretary is the day-to-day operator of internal Pentagon business, including budget oversight and management of the complex issues related to building and buying new weapons. Left to the defense secretary are more high-profile issues such as managing wars and dealing with the White House and Congress.

The deputy rarely is elevated to the top job. The last to take that step was William J. Perry, who moved from the deputy post to be Clinton’s second defense secretary in February 1994.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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