- The Washington Times - Friday, September 11, 2020

Democratic presidential nominee Joseph R. Biden said recently he doesn’t foresee major reductions in defense spending if he’s elected as commander in chief, and he won’t promise a full withdrawal of troops “in the near future” from Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq.

Mr. Biden said he supported keeping a small U.S. military footprint in the region, mostly to coordinate operations against the Islamic State and other terrorist groups, he told Stars & Stripes in an interview published on Thursday.

“I think we need special ops capacity to coordinate with our allies,” Mr. Biden told Stars & Stripes, which was recently saved from being shuttered as part of a Department of Defense cost-saving measure.

Some defense spending could even rise in a Biden administration. The Pentagon “desperately” needs to focus more attention on unmanned aircraft and cyber domain operations, he said.

“I’ve met with a number of my advisers and some have suggested in certain areas the budget is going to have to be increased,” Mr. Biden said.

The former vice president, who leads in several national polls, has called for a more diverse military — including allowing transgender people to openly serve in uniform. Mr. Biden told Stars & Stripes that he believes America’s strained relationship with other NATO members is the country’s most significant readiness issue.

“They’re worried as hell about our failure to confront Russia diplomatically or other ways and worried about ‘America First’ meaning ‘America Alone,’ ” he told the newspaper.

• Mike Glenn can be reached at mglenn@washingtontimes.com.

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