Monday, January 9, 2012

White House Press Briefing January 9, 2011


White House Press Briefing by Jay Carney, January 9

09 January 2012
Office of the Press Secretary
January 9, 2012

Formatted by Darin Codon @ Missouri News
James S. Brady Press Briefing Room
1:08 P.M. EST

MR. CARNEY: I want to ask your forgiveness that I had to switch around the briefing schedule a couple times. I actually have to be done at 1:45 p.m. So I’ll try to move quickly through your questions.
Let me begin with an announcement, or rather a statement. On Wednesday, President Obama and Vice President Biden will host an In-Sourcing American Jobs Forum at the White House focused on the increasing trend of companies choosing to in-source jobs and invest in growing in the United States. As part of the In-Sourcing American Jobs Forum, the President will meet with business leaders as well as experts on the topic to discuss why it’s competitive to locate in the United States and what more can be done to work with companies to take similar steps to in-source American jobs.

Following that meeting, the President will deliver remarks to a group that will include leaders from the government and the private sector that are taking steps to encourage companies to in-source and invest in America. In the afternoon, Cabinet officials will host panel discussions with both small and large businesses and experts on in-sourcing and investing in America. There will be over a dozen large and small businesses in attendance at the event that have made decisions to bring jobs to the United States and to increase their investments here. They will attend the forum.

With that, I go to the Associated Press.

Associated Press: Thank you, Jay. A couple topics today. I wanted to get your updated reaction about what’s happened with Iran. Iran has convicted and sentenced to death an American that Iran accuses of spying. I know the White House has demanded his release, but I’m wondering what more the White House and perhaps specifically the President can do given that his life is on the line.

MR. CARNEY: Well, it’s accurate that we have seen Iranian press reports that Mr. Hekmati has been sentenced to death by an Iranian court. Our State Department is working through the Swiss protecting powers in Iran to confirm the veracity of those reports.

If true, we strongly condemn such a verdict and will work with our partners to convey our condemnation to the Iranian government. Allegations that Mr. Hekmati either worked for or was sent to Iran by the CIA are false. The Iranian regime has a history, as you know, of falsely accusing people of being spies, of eliciting forced confessions and of holding innocent Americans for political reasons.

We call upon the Iranian government to grant the Swiss protecting powers immediate access to Mr. Hekmati, grant him access to legal counsel and release him without delay.

The State Department can give you more details on that.

Q: Okay, but I mean the question still stands. You’ve call for his release, if true, and the reports appear to be true, so what more can do you do other than making these calls?

MR. CARNEY: Well, I mean that’s a broad question, Ben. We are putting a great deal of pressure on Iran broadly because of its rogue behavior, if you will -- the fact that it won’t live up to its international obligations with regards to its nuclear program. Those actions that we’re taking in concert with our international partners have had a significant impact on Iran, on the Iranian economy. I believe it was just last week where the new sanctions when they went into effect had the impact of causing the Iranian currency to drop dramatically. So we work with our partners as well as unilaterally to increase that pressure.

As regards this particular incident, we will work in the manner that I described to you to call upon Iran to release Mr. Hekmati immediately.

Q: Is it fair to say in a case like this that the administration would consider any option to try to intervene and protect him?

MR. CARNEY: I don’t want to speculate about that. I think that we take this matter very seriously, and we are addressing it in the appropriate manner.

Q: One other topic. Wednesday is apparently the 10th anniversary of the prison in Guantanamo Bay, and I’m wondering what the White House says now to critics who point to this as a pretty clear broken promise. The President had wanted to close that within a year. That hasn’t happened for a lot of the history that you know of. And now it’s like there’s really no end in sight. How do you respond to the criticism that this is just a big, broken promise?

MR. CARNEY: Well, the commitment that the President has to closing Guantanamo Bay is as firm today as it was during the campaign. We all are aware of the obstacles to getting that done as quickly as the President wanted to get it done, what they were and the fact that they continued to persist. But the President’s commitment hasn’t changed at all. And it’s the right thing to do for our national security interests.

That has been an opinion shared not just by this President or members of this administration, but senior members of the military as well as this President’s predecessor and the man he ran against for this office in the general election. So we will continue to abide by that commitment and work towards its fulfillment.

Q: Do you think you’re any closer to closing it than you were the day he took office?

MR. CARNEY: I think this is a process that faces obstacles that we’re all aware of and we will continue to work through it.

Yes, Reuters.

Q: Thanks, Jay. Did the President watch any of the Republican debates this weekend?

MR. CARNEY: I didn’t speak with him about that. I know because I know him that it’s unlikely, not because they were debates, but because he tends to, when he is watching television, not watch news or politics but sports or movies. So I will venture a guess and say no.

Q: As the Republican field starts to narrow a little bit and as the frontrunner is gaining traction, how does -- what has the President said and what is the White House thinking about your own strategy in the next few months?

MR. CARNEY: Well, Jeff, as you know there is a reelection campaign located in Chicago. And this President is doing the things that he needs to do to prepare for his campaign, but his -- the level of his engagement is relatively low now because he has work to do as President.

He is very focused on his number-one priority, which is doing everything he can as President, working with Congress or using his executive authority or working with the private sector, to grow the economy and create jobs. We’ve had some signs of improvement in the economy, some indications that the recovery is strengthening, but we are a long way from where we need to be as a country. And that’s why this President is focused on the initiatives that he’s put forward in the American Jobs Act, including the extension -- the full extension of the payroll tax cut, the full extension of unemployment insurance, working with Congress to fund infrastructure projects that will put construction workers back to work but also build the foundation for the economy that we need to be competitive in the 21st century, and doing the kinds of things that he’ll do on Wednesday with this in-sourcing forum to work with the private sector to focus people’s attention on the fact that America is a great place to invest; it’s the right place for American companies to in-source, if you will, to bring their investments and jobs back to the United States.

So he’ll use every tool in the toolbox to do that. The campaign, when it comes, in terms of his enhanced engagement, will consume more time at the appropriate time. But it’s not -- that’s not now for him.

Q: But even if the two operations are separate, as they clearly are, aren’t things like the nomination of Richard Cordray last week and even the in-sourcing event right now milestones for -- that will be used for the campaigning season as well for this President?

MR. CARNEY: That’s like saying that anything you do as President is inherently political. And the fact is he is running for reelection to a political office, the presidency of the United States, and he will obviously have a lot to say about what has been accomplished during his time in office, and, even more so, what needs to be done in the ensuing four years and why he believes that he has the right vision for the country going forward.

And having said that, his job is to be President. His job is to do everything he can to help the American people as we emerge from the worst recession since the Great Depression; to work with the private sector, work with Congress, use his executive authority, to grow the economy and create jobs; to make sure that he’s doing everything he can as Commander-in-Chief to ensure the safety of the American people both here and abroad; to take the kinds of actions that allowed him to fulfill his promise to end the war in Iraq, as he did late last year; and to continue to draw down forces in Afghanistan, even as we step up our fight against al Qaeda.

All these things are part of his day job, and they’re quite consuming. And because he does not need to now, he is not engaging particularly aggressively in his reelection campaign. It’s only January. There is not a Republican nominee.

Q: Isn’t the recess appointment engaging on some level?

MR. CARNEY: I can’t remember -- I guess maybe you weren’t here last week -- but the President recess-appointed Richard Cordray because Republicans refused -- despite overwhelming bipartisan support, overwhelming testaments to the fact that he is enormously qualified and the overwhelming need to have a consumer watchdog in place, the Republicans in the Senate refused to confirm him, refused to give him an up or down vote.

Every day that there isn’t -- or wasn’t a consumer watchdog in that office was a day when Americans weren’t protected from abuses by payday lenders, non-bank financial institutions, mortgage brokers, student loan providers. So he insisted that he was not going to wait any longer to allow those Americans to be unprotected.

Republicans who opposed that nomination almost to a person have said it’s not because they have any problem with Richard Cordray, it’s because they have a problem with the bureau itself. And our position is if they want to change the law, they should do that through the legislative process. It is the law. It was passed by Congress.

Wall Street reform is absolutely essential given the kind of crisis we went through that contributed to the worst recession since the Great Depression. And Richard Cordray needs to be on the job. That’s why the President made that appointment.

Let me move around. Mark.

Q: Thanks, Jay. If I could come back to Iran for a moment, the sanctions that the President signed into law over the holiday are sort of requiring the U.S. to go to a lot of long-time allies and make the case that they should curtail purchases of Iranian oil. I’m wondering, in the week or so that those sanctions have been in effect, what’s the earlier response been from countries like China, South Korea, Japan? Are you confident that at the end of this six-month period, you’ll be able to go to Congress and say in each of these cases these countries have significantly reduced the amount of oil they buy from Iran?

MR. CARNEY: I don’t want to speak for other countries. Our belief is that for these sanctions to be most effective, they need to be multilateral and have multilateral participation. They need to be timed and phased in a way that avoids negative repercussions to international oil markets and in ways that might cause more damage to ourselves than to Iran.

So that’s why we worked so closely with Congress to ensure that the flexibility was there, to allow us to implement this legislation, to implement the sanctions in a way that had the most negative effect, if you will, on Iran, while protecting our international partners and protecting us from shocks in the oil markets. And we’re proceeding with that approach.

Q: At the risk of getting into the weeds a tiny bit, in order to go to Congress and ask for a waiver in any of these cases, the phraseology is you need to show that these countries are importing significantly less oil. Can you be more precise? What constitutes, in percentage terms, a significant decline in purchases of Iranian oil?

MR. CARNEY: I won’t be more precise. I know that we believe strongly that the flexibility that is necessary for the President to implement this law effectively exists in the legislation. We worked with Congress to make sure that was the case and we are now in the process of doing that.
All the way in the back.

Q: Thank you, Jay. Pakistan’s new ambassador to the U.S., Sherry Rehman, has arrived here. And my question is, since November 26th, when there was another cross-border attack in which 26 Pakistani soldiers were killed, you had tension in relations between the U.S. and Pakistan. Is the President satisfied with the kind of cooperation you are receiving from Pakistan now after that incident?

MR. CARNEY: As you know, and I’ve discussed from here on numerous occasions, we have an important relationship with Pakistan; we have a complicated relationship with Pakistan. And we continue to work on it, because it’s in the interest of the American people and in the interest of American national security to do so. I don’t have any updates on that for you, except to say that we are working with Pakistan precisely because it’s in American national security interests to do so and we will continue to do that.

Q: Jay, there’s a lot of interest in Jodi Kantor’s book that’s coming out tomorrow -- details tensions between the First Lady and some, well, former top aides to President Obama. I’m just wondering what you think about her accounts in the book.

MR. CARNEY: Well, let me just say that books like these tend to overhype and sensationalize things and I think that’s the case here. The fact of the matter is -- and I think this is depicted in the book -- the relationship between the President and the First Lady is incredibly strong; their commitment to each other, to their children, and to the reasons why this President ran for office is all very strong. The fact of the matter is the First Lady is very focused on the issues that matter to her -- helping military families, fighting childhood obesity -- and she has done that remarkably well. And I think that’s reflected also in the book.

Q: What do you make of the account that’s getting so much attention that Robert Gibbs cursed the First Lady in a meeting with top White House aides?

MR. CARNEY: Again, I think that books like these generally over-sensationalize things. I know some people groan a little bit when I do this, but I’ve covered a couple of White Houses myself, and the fact of the matter is I’ve been here all three years, although not in this position. The atmosphere and collegiality here is much better than any of the White Houses I’ve covered. And that’s been the case from day one here and continues to be the case.

But these are high-pressure jobs. There’s always a lot at stake. And the commitment the people show to the President, to the First Lady, and to the causes that brought them here is fierce. And sometimes that intensity leads people to raise their voices or have sharp exchanges. But the overall picture is one of remarkable collegiality and a genuine focus.

I mean, I think you guys know this, too. A lot of you have covered previous administrations, previous White Houses. This is a remarkably harmonious place, given everything that’s at stake and the enormity of the issues that are discussed and debated here every day.

Q: Can you just speak to the voracity of the Gibb’s --

MR. CARNEY: No, I’m not going to get into individual anecdotes from there. And I’ll simply say that isolating one incident where there were sharp words, whether it’s accurate or not, doesn’t reflect the overall atmosphere and tenor here, or doesn’t make clear -- also doesn’t make clear that in some cases these anecdotes -- what really is the focus here, which every individual at the senior level that I know is determined to work for the President, work for the First Lady, towards achieving the things that they set out to do when they came here in January of 2009.
So that’s what I see every day. That’s what I saw in my first two years in my other job. And I think it’s a testimony to the commitment that the folks here have to these causes that we have this kind of relationship among ourselves.

Yes, Ann.

Q: Follow up to that? In your three years here, has it been common for Mrs. Obama to express an interest in the West Wing policy? Does she voice her concerns? Has she --

MR. CARNEY: No, I think as the author of this book herself said just the other day, if not today, that, in fact, no. The First Lady is very focused on the issues that matter dearly to her -- military families and the fight against childhood obesity. She’s also very focused on raising her two children, and giving them an upbringing that is as normal as can be in these rather unusual circumstances.

Q: She was not unhappy with the loss of her -- upset about the loss of the Senate seat --

MR. CARNEY: There wasn’t anybody who occupy -- who comes to work here who wasn’t disappointed by a political loss, the one you’re referring to. I don’t know that she was personally. She doesn’t come to meetings in the West Wing. But I think everybody had hoped for a different outcome to that race.

Q: Why didn’t the White House confirm at the time that Johnny Depp was here?

MR. CARNEY: This is a perfect example of why -- it goes right to my first point about how these books take -- books like these take these things out of context. A couple of outlets that I won’t name reported that a secret party -- well, if it was secret, why did we invite the press in? Why was there a pool report? Why were there contemporaneous photographs? This was an event --

Q: There was no pool report from the State Dining Room about Johnny Depp being there.

MR. CARNEY: Ann, this wasn’t a publicity event for the outside. This was an event for military children and their families inside the White House, where the press came, photographs were taken. It was contemporaneously known who was here. If that’s -- if we’re trying to hide something by bringing in the press, we’re not very good at it.

So, again, I think as many people have said in the wake of those reports, it’s an example of the kind of hype and sensationalizing that books like this do.

Q: For the record, there’s not one statement from this White House about --

MR. CARNEY: But again, the purpose wasn’t to -- for any of these -- we do a lot of these things -- July 4th, other events here, including other events that are geared towards military families and their kids, where the purpose isn’t to publicize them externally for you guys, but to have a nice event for them here, which is different from trying to hide anything. Again, you don’t bring the press in, you don’t have photographs going out of here in real time if you’re trying to keep something on the down low.

But the focus of the event was on celebrating and giving a nice time to military families and their kids, and the event itself was overwhelmingly for children.

Yes, Ed.

Q: But the allegation that the author is making indirectly is that the White House did deliberately keep Johnny Depp and just in general the Hollywood angle out of this because of the recession.

MR. CARNEY: Then why were there pictures of Johnny Depp instantly available?

Q: Where?

Q: To who? Because the media was not --

MR. CARNEY: I mean, there were pictures --

Q: -- let into that part where Johnny Depp was, if I understand it.

MR. CARNEY: There were many, many people in the White House -- public and staff and others -- and there were photographs out there. I mean, honestly, Ed, I mean, again, there are outlets that have reported this as a “secret” party, which is just silly. And it’s irresponsible reporting to suggest that, that you would have a pool report and the press at an event that’s secret, and have it attended by hundreds if not thousands of people.

So the focus was on military families and their kids. And it was not on publicity outside of here, it was on those who were invited.

Q: So if you say the book is overhyped and sensationalized, including that anecdote, why did 33 people around this White House to include senior aides and cooperate with this author?

MR. CARNEY: Well, again, that happened before the book came out. But we cooperate with all of you on the stories that you work on. We give access to you, grant -- you get interviews. Some of your stories turn out to accurately reflect what we know has happened here and some of them, in our view, don’t necessarily reflect that. But that’s part of our job, in the press shop here, is to work with folks -- working on broadcast reports, radio reports, print reports, book, prose, poems, short films -- (laughter) --

Q: Haiku.

MR. CARNEY: Haiku. (Laughter.) All that kind of stuff.

Q: Are you aware of -- on the anecdote that Brianna was talking about, are you aware of Robert Gibbs apologizing to the First Lady about that? Is that something the President was upset about?

MR. CARNEY: While I was at the White House I wasn’t in those meetings at that time and I don’t have anything more for you on it. What I can tell you is that Robert is, as you know, focused on helping the President get reelected. He is out there, every bit as much of the team and a member of the team now as he was back then. And then I would just point you to what I said before about these are high-pressure jobs with a lot at stake. But the fact of the matter is, the overall story here is how collegial and harmonious and focused everyone is here on the task at hand.


Q: What’s the White House’s response to these attacks on the President by Republican candidates over Iran, saying that his policies, sanctions policies are feckless, weak and ineffective?

MR. CARNEY: Again, I don’t have anything specific to those criticisms. I’m pretty clear about what our approach is to Iran. We have sanctions that are unprecedented, that are having demonstrable effect on the Iranian economy. Iran is isolated in a way that it’s never been, and the pressure on Iran is significant and increasing. We will continue to work with our international partners to pressure Iran to change its behavior, to abide by its international obligations.

And I think, stepping back, this President’s approach to foreign policy, the successes he’s had I think are pretty clear. So when that debate comes he’ll be ready to engage in it.

Q: Can I just follow?

MR. CARNEY: Let me get some more folks in the front row.

Q: Let me go back to the book -- sorry, Jay. Has the President or the First Lady responded at all to this so far? And then, secondly, what’s the response to sort of the overarching theme in the book of the First Lady’s what seems to be unhappiness with her role or seemed to be back then, and what’s described as living in a “bunker-like atmosphere” of the White House?

MR. CARNEY: Well, I would point you now to -- because obviously she wasn’t interviewed for this book, but she has given interviews and answered this question as recently as in the last few weeks about the remarkable privilege she feels she’s been given to be First Lady and how she feels blessed by the opportunity to be First Lady. So I would point you to the First Lady’s words to answer that question.
And broadly, I think you have to remember that the story here is of a husband and wife, a mother and father whose lives were enormously different five or six years ago from what they are and what they were when they came to the White House. And that’s an incredible transition that I think observers rightly point out has been done with remarkable grace and success in terms of the priorities that the President has set for himself and for the country, and in terms of the priorities that the First Lady has set for herself and for her family.
So that’s my reaction.

Q: But have they reacted personally to it?

MR. CARNEY: No. My guess is they both have a lot on their plate. Maybe they’ve seen a story or two, but it’s probably not something they’re going to spend a lot of time reading. Don’t forget, there are tons of books written about this White House, this administration, this President, this First Lady. This is just another one of them. So my guess is they stay focused on the things that matter most to them.

Kate and then Bill.

Q: What is the White House doing to prepare for challenges from Congress -- for recess appointments? What is the counsel’s office doing? Any conversations with members of Congress?

MR. CARNEY: I don’t have any specific conversations or meetings to report. You know our position. We feel very strongly about the legal foundation for the course of action the President took. The fact of the matter is -- and again, if you have any doubts, please head up to the Hill and check out for yourself -- Congress is in recess. Chambers are empty. The halls are quiet.

Senate Republicans, despite overwhelming support across the country from Republicans and Democrats, attorneys general, decided to block this nominee and prevent middle-class Americans from having a watchdog looking out for their interests here in Washington.

Like I said before, financial institutions have a lot of well-paid lobbyists in Washington working with Congress to try to get their interests served. The American people deserve, and this President believes they deserve, a consumer watchdog whose only job is to make sure that they’re protected from abusive practices, and that’s why the President took the action he did.

Q: Can we expect more recess appointments while Congress is in recess?

MR. CARNEY: I don’t have any announcements with regard to appointments to make today.
Q: And also General Dempsey said the U.S. would take action to open the Strait of Hormuz if Iran closes it. What kind of preparations -- I mean, what kind of action is he referring to specifically?
MR. CARNEY: Well, I would refer you to the Department of Defense for any specifics. We’re very confident in our capabilities. And I’ll leave it at that.

Julia. I’m sorry, Bill, yes. Then Julia.

Q: Going back to the American prisoner in Iran. You said that you’d heard reports. Do you not have any official word from the Swiss that he --

MR. CARNEY: We’re working through the Swiss protecting powers to confirm those reports. I’m not saying that we doubt them. I’m just saying that we’ve seen the reports and we’re working with the Swiss who represent us -- or with whom we work to represent us in Tehran in our dealings with the Iranian government.

Q: So no official word yet?

MR. CARNEY: Again, that’s right. That’s what I just said. We’re working with the Swiss to do that.

Q: This death sentence that he’s reported to have received is subject, we understand, to confirmation by a larger supreme tribunal of some kind. So will the U.S. be pushing to have it reversed?

MR. CARNEY: Well, we’re pushing very clearly, as I just stated, that Iran release him. I clearly stated, and others have, that the charges against him are false and we want to see him released. I mean, the intricacies of the judicial process in Iran are not what interests us here. Our interest is in seeing him released.

Q: You said he’s definitely not CIA?

MR. CARNEY: That’s right.

Q: Thanks, Jay. Angela Merkel and Sarkozy met today to discuss the European debt crisis. Has the President been briefed on the meeting? Has he made any phone calls to them?

MR. CARNEY: I don’t have any phone calls to report. He may have been briefed on it at his presidential daily briefing earlier today. I don’t know that for sure, but I’m sure he’s aware of it. We continue to work with our European partners --the President does, Secretary Geithner does, others involved in this area do -- and we continue to monitor the progress that European leaders are making towards ensuring that the right measures are taken and are in place to stabilize that situation and bring it to a decisive conclusion.

Q: And given the current situation, how much concern is there in the administration that more European countries will see ratings agencies downgrade?

MR. CARNEY: Well, our concern about the potential for that situation to worsen has been there and continues to be there. We’ve seen some progress by the Europeans. There’s more work to be done.

It’s always a reminder in this case that we need to focus on the things that we have control over that can strengthen our economy, improve prospects for growth and job creation. That’s why the President will work with Congress to extend fully the payroll tax cut, to extend fully unemployment insurance. And he hopes to pass other measures of the American Jobs Act that will put people to work and grow our economy.

You need that kind of insurance in a global economy like this because, whether it’s Europe or other shocks that we saw in the global economy last year -- the Arab Spring and its effect on oil prices, the earthquake and tsunami and its effect on global supply chains -- these are the kinds of things that you sometimes can’t predict, or often can’t predict, that have effects on the economy. You need to do the things you can do.
That’s what the American people sent this President here to do. That’s what the American people sent the members of Congress to Washington to do. And I think that they need to focus on that challenge when those members of Congress return to Washington. It would be I think a great gift to the American people if, upon reflection over the recess, members of Congress -- Republicans in particular -- decided that cooperation was the right way to go for the sake of the economy. Let’s extend the payroll tax cut and unemployment insurance without drama, without brinkmanship -- brinksmanship.

Let’s take up the measures in the American Jobs Act that have been left undone that have traditionally enjoyed bipartisan support. Let’s get that done for the American people. Let’s show them that we can work together on their priorities.

I’m going to have to -- let’s do two more. Julia.

Q: On extending the payroll tax cut and unemployment insurance for a year, has the President yet reached out to conferees before they return to Congress? And what concessions specifically in relation to unemployment insurance might the President be willing to make? The House Republicans did propose making some changes to unemployment insurance that would restrict those who qualified.

MR. CARNEY: Well, the President put forward in his own proposal reforms to unemployment insurance, and I refer you to the American Jobs Act for that.

In terms of overall concessions, let’s just be clear here. These are things that the American people believe are necessary. These are things that have traditionally enjoyed bipartisan support. This is a tax cut for 160 million Americans. With regards to the unemployment insurance extension, economists across the board recognize that extending the unemployment insurance benefit is vital not just to the people who receive it but to the economy because that money is injected right into the economic bloodstream and has a significant impact on growth and job creation.

I don’t think House Republicans are in a position if they’re serious about growth and job creation to try to play politics with this. We saw how that went not that long ago, and I think the American people would be extremely disappointed if that approach were taken again. We can do this. We can do it quickly and without drama, and we can move on to the other priorities that the American people have.

One more. Yes, ma’am.

Q: Thanks, Jay. On North Korea, North Korea announced yesterday that North Korea never, ever give up their nuclear programs. How do you respond on this?

MR. CARNEY: I would have to refer you to the State Department. I don’t have specific response on that.
Thank you all very much.
END        1:41 P.M. EST

US Secretary of Defense Statement on Strategic Guidance (Full Text )

Seal of the Department of Defense U.S. Department of Defense
Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs)
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Statement on Defense Strategic Guidance
As Delivered by Secretary of Defense Leon E. Panetta, Press Briefing Room, The Pentagon, Washington, DC, Thursday, January 05, 2012

Let me begin by thanking President Obama for coming here to the Pentagon this morning, and also in particular to thank him for his vision and guidance and leadership as this department went through a very intensive review that we undertook to try to develop the new strategic guidance that we're releasing today.

And in my experience, this has been an unprecedented process, to have the President of the United States participate in discussions involving the development of a defense strategy, and to spend time with our service chiefs and spend time with our combatant commanders to get their views. It's truly unprecedented.

This guidance that we are releasing today, and which has been distributed now throughout the department -- it really does represent a historic shift to the future. And it recognizes that this country is at a strategic turning point, after a decade of war and after large increases in defense spending.

As the president mentioned, the U.S. military's mission in Iraq has now ended. We do have continued progress in Afghanistan. It's tough, and it remains challenging, but we are beginning to enable a transition to Afghan security responsibility. The NATO effort in Libya has concluded with the fall of Gadhafi. And targeted counterterrorism efforts have significantly weakened al-Qaida and decimated its leadership.

And now, as these events are occurring -- and the Congress has mandated, by law, that we achieve significant defense savings. So clearly, we are at a turning point.

But even as our large-scale military campaigns recede, the United States still faces complex and growing array of security challenges across the globe. And unlike past drawdowns when oftentimes the threats that the country was facing went away, the fact is that there remain a number of challenges that we have to confront, challenges that call for reshaping of America's defense priorities: focusing on the continuing threat of violent extremism, which is still there and still to be dealt with; proliferation of lethal weapons and materials; the destabilizing behavior of nations like Iran and North Korea; the rise of new powers across Asia; and the dramatic changes that we've seen unfold in the Middle East.

All of this comes at a time when America confronts a very serious deficit and debt problem here at home, a problem which is itself a national security risk that is squeezing both the defense and domestic budgets. Even as we face these considerable pressures, including the requirement of the Budget Control Act to reduce defense spending by what we have now as the number of $487 billion over 10 years, I do not believe -- and I've said this before -- that we have to choose between our national security and fiscal responsibility. The Department of Defense will play its part in helping the nation put our fiscal house in order.

The president has made clear, and I've made clear, that the savings that we've been mandated to achieve must be driven by strategy and must be driven by rigorous analysis, not by numbers alone.

Consequently, over the last few months, we've conducted an intensive review to try to guide defense priorities and spending over the coming decade, all of this in light of the strategic guidance that we received in discussions with the president and the recommendations of this department's both senior military and civilian leadership. Both of them provided those kinds of recommendations. This process has enabled us to assess risk, to set priorities and to make some very hard choices.

Let me be clear again. The department would need to make a strategic shift regardless of the nation's fiscal situation. We are at that point in history. That's the reality of the world we live in. Fiscal crisis has forced us to face the strategic shift that's taking place now.

As difficult as it may be to achieve the mandated defense savings, this has given all of us in the Department of Defense the opportunity to reshape our defense strategy and force structure to more effectively meet the challenges of the future -- to deter aggression, to shape the security environment and to decisively prevail in any conflict.

From the beginning, I set out to ensure that this strategy review would be inclusive. Chairman Dempsey and I met frequently with department leaders, including our undersecretaries, the service chiefs, the service secretaries, the combatant commanders, our senior enlisted advisers. We also discussed this strategy and its implications, obviously, with the president, his national security advisers, with members of Congress and with outside experts.

There are four over-arching principles that have guided our deliberations, and I've said this at the very beginning as we began this process. One, we must maintain the world's finest military, one that supports and sustains the unique global leadership role of the United States in today's world.

Two, we must avoid hollowing out the force -- a smaller, ready, and well-equipped military is much more preferable to a larger, ill-prepared force that has been arbitrarily cut across the board.

Third, savings must be achieved in a balanced manner, with everything on the table, including politically sensitive areas that will likely provoke opposition from parts of the Congress, from industry and from advocacy groups.

That's the nature of making hard choices.

Four, we must preserve the quality of the all-volunteer force and not break faith with our men and women in uniform or their families. With these principles in mind, I'll focus on some of the significant strategic choices and shifts that are being made.

The United States military -- let me be very clear about this -- the United States military will remain capable across the spectrum. We will continue to conduct a complex set of missions ranging from counterterrorism, ranging from countering weapons of mass destruction, to maintaining a safe, secure and effective nuclear deterrent. We will be fully prepared to protect our interests, defend our homeland and support civil authorities.

Our goal to achieve the U.S. force for the future involves the following significant changes.

First, the U.S. joint force will be smaller, and it will be leaner. But its great strength will be that it will be more agile, more flexible, ready to deploy quickly, innovative, and technologically advanced. That is the force for the future.

Second, as we move towards this new joint force, we are also rebalancing our global posture and presence, emphasizing the Pacific and the Middle East.

These are the areas where we see the greatest challenges for the future. The U.S. military will increase its institutional weight and focus on enhanced presence, power projection, and deterrence in Asia- Pacific.

This region is growing in importance to the future of the United States in terms of our economy and our national security. This means, for instance, improving capabilities that maintain our military's technological edge and freedom of action. At the same time, the United States will place a premium in maintaining our military presence and capabilities in the broader Middle East. The United States and our partners must remain capable of deterring and defeating aggression while supporting political progress and reform.

Third, the United States will continue to strengthen its key alliances, to build partnerships and to develop innovative ways to sustain U.S. presence elsewhere in the world. A long history of close political and military cooperation with our European allies and partners will be critical to addressing the challenges of the 21st century. We will invest in the shared capabilities and responsibilities of NATO, our most effective military alliance.

The U.S. military's force posture in Europe will, of necessity, continue to adapt and evolve to meet new challenges and opportunities, particularly in light of the security needs of the continent relative to the emerging strategic priorities that we face elsewhere. We are committed to sustaining a presence that will meet our Article 5 commitments, deter aggression, and the U.S. military will work closely with our allies to allow for the kinds of coalition operations that NATO has undertaken in Libya and Afghanistan.

In Latin America, Africa, elsewhere in the world, we will use innovative methods to sustain U.S. presence, maintaining key military-to-military relations and pursuing new security partnerships as needed. Wherever possible, we will develop low-cost and small- footprint approaches to achieving our security objectives, emphasizing rotational deployments, emphasizing exercises -- military exercises with these nations, and doing other innovative approaches to maintain a presence throughout the rest of the world.

Fourth, as we shift the size and composition of our ground, air and naval forces, we must be capable of successfully confronting and defeating any aggressor and respond to the changing nature of warfare. Our strategy review concluded that the United States must have the capability to fight several conflicts at the same time. We are not confronting, obviously, the threats of the past; we are confronting the threats of the 21st century. And that demands greater flexibility to shift and deploy forces to be able to fight and defeat any enemy anywhere. How we defeat the enemy may very well vary across conflicts. But make no mistake, we will have the capability to confront and defeat more than one adversary at a time.

As a global force, our military will never be doing only one thing. It will be responsible for a range of missions and activities across the globe of varying scope, duration, and strategic priority. This will place a premium on flexible and adaptable forces that can respond quickly and effectively to a variety of contingencies and potential adversaries. Again, that's the nature of the world that we are dealing with. In addition to these forces, the United States will emphasize building the capacity of our partners and allies to more effectively defend their own territory, their own interests, through a better use of diplomacy, development, and security force assistance.

In accordance with this construct, and with the end of U.S. military commitments in Iraq and the drawdown that is already under way in Afghanistan, the Army and Marine Corps will no longer need to be sized to support the kind of large-scale, long-term stability operations that have dominated military priorities and force generation over the past decade.

Lastly, as we reduce the overall defense budget, we will protect, and in some cases increase, our investments in special operations forces, in new technologies like ISR and unmanned systems, in space -- and, in particular, in cyberspace --capabilities, and also our capacity to quickly mobilize if necessary.

These investments will help the military retain and continue to refine and institutionalize the expertise and capabilities that have been gained at such great cost over the last decade.

And most importantly, we will structure and pace the reductions in the nation's ground forces in such a way that they can surge, regenerate and mobilize capabilities needed for any contingency. Building in reversibility and the ability to quickly mobilize will be key. That means re-examining the mix of elements in the active and Reserve components. It means maintaining a strong National Guard and Reserve. It means retaining a healthy cadre of experienced NCOs and mid-grade officers and preserving the health and viability of the nation's defense industrial base.

The strategic guidance that we're providing is the first step in this department's goal to build the joint force of 2020, a force sized and shaped differently than the military of the Cold War, the post- Cold War force of the 1990s, or the force that was built over the past decade to engage in large-scale ground wars.

This strategy and vision will guide the more specific budget decisions that will be finalized and announced in the coming weeks as part of the president's budget. In some cases, we will be reducing capabilities that we believe no longer are a top priority.

But in other cases, we will invest in new capabilities to maintain a decisive military edge against a growing array of threats. There's no question -- there's no question -- that we have to make some trade-offs and that we will be taking, as a result of that, some level of additional but acceptable risk in the budget plan that we release next month. These are not easy choices.

We will continue aggressive efforts to weed out waste, reduce overhead, to reform business practices, to consolidate our duplicative operations. But budget reductions of this magnitude will inevitably impact the size and capabilities of our military. And as I said before, true national security cannot be achieved through a strong military alone. It requires strong diplomacy. It requires strong intelligence efforts. And above all, it requires a strong economy, fiscal discipline and effective government.

The capability, readiness and agility of the force will not be sustained if Congress fails to do its duty and the military is forced to accept far deeper cuts, in particular, the arbitrary, across-the- board cuts that are currently scheduled to take effect in January of 2013 through the mechanism of sequester. That would force us to shed missions and commitments and capabilities that we believe are necessary to protect core U.S. national security interests.

And it would result in what we think would be a demoralized and hollow force. That is not something that we intend to do.

And finally, I'd like to also address our men and women in uniform, and the civilian employees who support them, whom I -- who I know have been watching the budget debates here in Washington with concern about what it means for them and for their families. You have done everything this country has asked you to do and more.

You have put your lives on the line, and you have fought to make our country safer and stronger. I believe the strategic guidance honors your sacrifice and strengthens the country by building a force equipped to deal with the future. I have no higher responsibility than fighting to protect you and to protect your families. And just as you have fought and bled to protect our country, I commit to you that I will fight for you and for your families.

There is no doubt that the fiscal situation this country faces is difficult, and in many ways we are at a crisis point. But I believe that in every crisis there is opportunity. Out of this crisis, we have the opportunity to end the old ways of doing business and to build a modern force for the 21st century that can win today's wars and successfully confront any enemy, and respond to any threat and any challenge of the future.

Our responsibility -- my responsibility as secretary of defense -- is to protect the nation's security and to keep America safe. With this joint force, I am confident that we can effectively defend the United States of America.

Thank you.

Attorney General Revises Definition of Rape - FBI Release

Attorney General Eric Holder Announces Revisions to the Uniform Crime Report’s Definition of Rape . Data Reported on Rape Will Better Reflect State Criminal Codes, Victim Experiences

U.S. Department of Justice January 06, 2012
  • Office of Public Affairs (202) 514-2007/TDD (202)514-1888

WASHINGTON—Attorney General Eric Holder today announced revisions to the Uniform Crime Report’s (UCR) definition of rape, which will lead to a more comprehensive statistical reporting of rape nationwide. The new definition is more inclusive, better reflects state criminal codes and focuses on the various forms of sexual penetration understood to be rape. The new definition of rape is: “The penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without the consent of the victim.” The definition is used by the FBI to collect information from local law enforcement agencies about reported rapes.

“Rape is a devastating crime and we can’t solve it unless we know the full extent of it,” said Vice President Biden, a leader in the effort to end violence against women for over 20 years and author of the landmark Violence Against Women Act. “This long-awaited change to the definition of rape is a victory for women and men across the country whose suffering has gone unaccounted for over 80 years.”

“These long overdue updates to the definition of rape will help ensure justice for those whose lives have been devastated by sexual violence and reflect the Department of Justice’s commitment to standing with rape victims,” Attorney General Holder said. “This new, more inclusive definition will provide us with a more accurate understanding of the scope and volume of these crimes.”

“The FBI’s Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS) Advisory Policy Board recently recommended the adoption of a revised definition of rape within the Summary Reporting System of the Uniform Crime Reporting Program,” said David Cuthbertson, FBI Assistant Director, CJIS Division. “This definitional change was recently approved by FBI Director Robert S. Mueller. This change will give law enforcement the ability to report more complete rape offense data, as the new definition reflects the vast majority of state rape statutes. As we implement this change, the FBI is confident that the number of victims of this heinous crime will be more accurately reflected in national crime statistics.”

The revised definition includes any gender of victim or perpetrator, and includes instances in which the victim is incapable of giving consent because of temporary or permanent mental or physical incapacity, including due to the influence of drugs or alcohol or because of age. The ability of the victim to give consent must be determined in accordance with state statute. Physical resistance from the victim is not required to demonstrate lack of consent. The new definition does not change federal or state criminal codes or impact charging and prosecution on the local level.

“The revised definition of rape sends an important message to the broad range of rape victims that they are supported and to perpetrators that they will be held accountable,” said Justice Department Director of the Office on Violence Against Women Susan B. Carbon. “We are grateful for the dedicated work of all those involved in making and implementing the changes that reflect more accurately the devastating crime of rape.”

The longstanding, narrow definition of forcible rape, first established in 1927, is “the carnal knowledge of a female, forcibly and against her will.” It thus included only forcible male penile penetration of a female vagina and excluded oral and anal penetration; rape of males; penetration of the vagina and anus with an object or body part other than the penis; rape of females by females; and non-forcible rape.

Police departments submit data on reported crimes and arrests to the UCR. The UCR data are reported nationally and used to measure and understand crime trends. In addition, the UCR program will also collect data based on the historical definition of rape, enabling law enforcement to track consistent trend data until the statistical differences between the old and new definitions are more fully understood.

The revised definition of rape is within FBI’s UCR Summary Reporting System Program. The new definition is supported by leading law enforcement agencies and advocates and reflects the work of the FBI’s CJIS Advisory Policy Board.

Click here to read a blog post from Director Carbon on the importance of the new definition of rape to our nation’s law enforcement, and for survivors of rape and their advocates. Click here to listen to the FBI’s podcast

FBI’s Top Ten News Stories for the Week Ending January 6, 2012

FBI’s Top Ten News Stories for the Week Ending January 6, 2012

Washington, D.C. January 06, 2012
  • FBI National Press Office (202) 324-3691
  1. DOJ: Attorney General Eric Holder Announces Revisions to the Uniform Crime Report’s Definition of Rape

    Attorney General Eric Holder announced revisions to the Uniform Crime Report’s definition of rape, which will lead to a more comprehensive statistical reporting of rape nationwide. Full Story

  2. New York: Four Israeli Defendants Charged in Multi-Million-Dollar Phony “Lottery Prize” Schemes Extradited

    Four defendants were extradited from Israel on charges relating to their participation in multiple lottery telemarketing fraud schemes. The schemes targeted elderly victims in the United States and netted the defendants millions of dollars in profits. Full Story

  3. Miami: Fort Lauderdale Police Officer Charged with Wire Fraud

    David Michael McElligott, who is currently stationed at Robins Air Force Base, Georgia, was charged in connection with allegedly submitting falsified military leave and earnings statements and military orders to the Fort Lauderdale Police Department and the city of Fort Lauderdale. Full Story

  4. Norfolk: Bounty Hunter Bloods Gang Members Sentenced for Racketeering Acts

    Amaad Jamaal Brantley was sentenced to 12 years in prison for participating in a pattern of racketeering activity which included attempted murder, home invasion, robbery and conspiring to distribute controlled substances, and to the charge of brandishing a firearm during a crime of violence. Two other co-defendants were also sentenced. Full Story

  5. Los Angeles: Man Sentenced to 12 Years in Federal Prison for Running Investment Fraud Scheme Involving Wind Energy Technology

    A Carson man was sentenced to 12 years in federal prison for running a $1 million scheme that bilked dozens of victims—including a U.S. Army staff sergeant who was serving on active duty in Afghanistan—who thought they were investing in a legitimate wind energy technology business. Full Story

  6. Albany: OGK Gang Member Sentencing

    Derrick Ruffin was sentenced to an additional 106 months in prison on a racketeering conspiracy charge relating to his involvement in the criminal activities of the Original Gangster Killers. Full Story

  7. Las Vegas: Man Pleads Guilty to Role in $3.4 Million Mortgage Fraud Scheme

    The secretary of Las Vegas-based CPT Real Estate Investments pled guilty to his role in a $3.4 million mortgage fraud scheme involving victims in the Las Vegas area. Full Story

  8. Kansas City: Man Serving Time for Kidnapping Sentenced to 20 Years for Bank Robbery

    A Kansas man who is already in prison for abducting a store clerk in Viola was sentenced to 20 years in federal prison on a bank robbery charge. Full Story

  9. Houston: Last of Those Convicted in Insurance Company Scam Sentenced to Federal Prison

    Shane Ladell Rhodes was sentenced to 15 months in prison for his participation in a wire fraud conspiracy involving more than $1 million in potential loss to Columbia Lloyd’s, a small local insurance company. Full Story

  10. Springfield: Business Owner Sentenced to 16 Months in Federal Prison for Fraud Scheme

    A former Mattoon, Illinois woman was ordered to serve 16 months in federal prison and pay restitution of more than $400,000 for defrauding a local bank and the Illinois Department of Revenue. Full Story

Combined Forces Capture Taliban Leaders in Afghanistan

Combined Forces Capture Taliban Leaders in Afghanistan

US Department of Defense American Forces Press Service
Compiled from International Security Assistance Force Joint Command News Releases

WASHINGTON, Jan. 9, 2012 – A combined Afghan and coalition security force captured two Taliban facilitators and detained a suspected insurgent in the Khugyani district of Afghanistan’s Nangarhar province today, military officials reported.

The facilitators distributed weapons and supplies to insurgent fighters and coordinated attacks throughout the district. The security force confiscated multiple weapons during the operation.

In other news in Afghanistan today:

-- In Helmand province’s Nahr-e Saraj district, a combined force captured a Taliban leader who directed the placement of roadside bombs and coordinated attacks against coalition forces. The force also seized about 10 pounds of hashish.

-- An Afghan-led and coalition-supported security force in Khost province’s Bak district captured a Haqqani network leader and detained multiple suspected insurgents. The leader distributed bomb-making materials, planted roadside explosives and organized insurgent fighters for attacks against Afghan forces. The security force also confiscated weapons.

-- In Wardak province’s Maidan Shahr district, a combined force captured a Taliban facilitator who planted roadside bombs and acquired ammunition and bomb-making materials for insurgent fighters.

In Afghanistan yesterday:

-- A combined force in Kandahar province’s Panjwai district found 5,500 pounds of marijuana and 3,410 pounds of hashish. Some of the drugs were confiscated as evidence and the rest were destroyed at the scene without incident.

-- In Kandahar province’s Maiwand district, a combined force confiscated about 398 pounds of marijuana and 16 homemade-bomb components. The drugs and components will be destroyed at a later date.

-- In Kandahar’s Panjwai district, a combined force confiscated five improvised explosive devices, various IED-making components and about 44 pounds of homemade explosives. The weapons will be destroyed at a later date.

-- A combined force captured two Taliban facilitators in Kandahar’s Maiwand district. The facilitators distributed weapons, coordinated the movement of insurgent fighters, and planned and conducted attacks against coalition forces.

-- In Kandahar’s Ghorak district, a combined force captured a Taliban facilitator and detained two additional suspected insurgents. The facilitator financed the purchase of explosives and distributed bomb-making materials to insurgents for use in attacks against coalition forces. The force also seized about 15 pounds of heroin.

-- A combined force Paktia province’s Zurmat district captured a Haqqani facilitator and detained a suspected insurgent. The facilitator conducted attacks against coalition forces. The security force also confiscated weapons and bomb-making materials.

-- In Nangarhar province’s Surkh Rod district, a combined force captured a Taliban facilitator who directed a group of insurgent fighters in multiple attacks against Afghan forces. The force also detained a suspected insurgent and seized various weapons and bomb-making materials.

-- A combined force in Logar province’s Pul-e Alam district captured a Haqqani leader and detained two suspected insurgents. The leader coordinated attacks against Afghan forces and procured weapons and bomb-making materials for insurgent fighters.

In other operations:

In Helmand province’s Nahr-e Saraj district, a combined force discovered and destroyed six IEDs, six anti-personnel mines and two jugs filled with homemade explosives Jan. 7.

-- A combined force in Nangarhar province’s Khugyani district confiscated 880 pounds of explosive materials Jan. 7. They will be destroyed at a later date. The force also detained two suspected insurgents during the operation.

-- In Khost province’s Sabari district, a combined force confiscated six mortar rounds, 13 recoilless rifles and 19 grenades Jan. 7. The weapons will be destroyed at a later date.

-- A combined force captured a senior Taliban network facilitator named Mashahud during a security operation in Nangarhar’s Surkh Rod district Jan. 1. Mashahud is a well-known weapons facilitator who planned large-scale attacks against the local populace throughout the region. He also has been linked to a Dec. 21 bomb attack that killed five people in Ghazni.

Related Sites:
NATO International Security Assistance Force

Obama Announces New Defense Strategy and Spending From Pentagon (Video and Full Text)

Obama Announces New Defense Strategy and Spending
By Barack Obama

The Pentagon

11:00 A.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT: Good morning, everybody. The United States of America is the greatest force for freedom and security that the world has ever known. And in no small measure, that’s because we’ve built the best-trained, best-led, best-equipped military in history -- and as Commander-in-Chief, I’m going to keep it that way.

Indeed, all of us on this stage -- every single one of us -- have a profound responsibility to every soldier, sailor, airman, Marine and Coast Guardsman who puts their life on the line for America. We owe them a strategy with well-defined goals; to only send them into harm’s way when it’s absolutely necessary; to give them the equipment and the support that they need to get the job done; and to care for them and their families when they come home. That is our solemn obligation.

And over the past three years, that’s what we’ve done. We’ve continued to make historic investments in our military -- our troops and their capabilities, our military families and our veterans. And thanks to their extraordinary service, we’ve ended our war in Iraq. We’ve decimated al Qaeda’s leadership. We’ve delivered justice to Osama bin Laden, and we’ve put that terrorist network on the path to defeat. We’ve made important progress in Afghanistan, and we’ve begun to transition so Afghans can assume more responsibility for their own security. We joined allies and partners to protect the Libyan people as they ended the regime of Muammar Qaddafi.

Now we’re turning the page on a decade of war. Three years ago, we had some 180,000 troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. Today, we’ve cut that number in half. And as the transition in Afghanistan continues, more of our troops will continue to come home. More broadly, around the globe we’ve strengthened alliances, forged new partnerships, and served as a force for universal rights and human dignity.

In short, we’ve succeeded in defending our nation, taking the fight to our enemies, reducing the number of Americans in harm’s way, and we’ve restored America’s global leadership. That makes us safer and it makes us stronger. And that’s an achievement that every American -- especially those Americans who are proud to wear the uniform of the United States Armed Forces -- should take great pride in.

This success has brought our nation, once more, to a moment of transition. Even as our troops continue to fight in Afghanistan, the tide of war is receding. Even as our forces prevail in today’s missions, we have the opportunity -- and the responsibility -- to look ahead to the force that we are going to need in the future.

At the same time, we have to renew our economic strength here at home, which is the foundation of our strength around the world. And that includes putting our fiscal house in order. To that end, the Budget Control Act passed by Congress last year -- with the support of Republicans and Democrats alike -- mandates reductions in federal spending, including defense spending. I’ve insisted that we do that responsibly. The security of our nation and the lives of our men and women in uniform depend on it.

That’s why I called for this comprehensive defense review -- to clarify our strategic interests in a fast-changing world, and to guide our defense priorities and spending over the coming decade -- because the size and the structure of our military and defense budgets have to be driven by a strategy, not the other way around. Moreover, we have to remember the lessons of history. We can’t afford to repeat the mistakes that have been made in the past -- after World War II, after Vietnam -- when our military was left ill prepared for the future. As Commander in Chief, I will not let that happen again. Not on my watch.
We need a start -- we need a smart, strategic set of priorities. The new guidance that the Defense Department is releasing today does just that. I want to thank Secretary Panetta and General Dempsey for their extraordinary leadership during this process. I want to thank the service secretaries and chiefs, the combatant commanders and so many defense leaders -- military and civilian, active, Guard and reserve -- for their contributions. Many of us met repeatedly -- asking tough questions, challenging our own assumptions and making hard choices. And we’ve come together today around an approach that will keep our nation safe and our military the finest that the world have ever known.

This review also benefits from the contributions of leaders from across my national security team -- from the departments of State, Homeland Security and Veterans Affairs, as well as the intelligence community. And this is critical, because meeting the challenges of our time cannot be the work of our military alone -- or the United States alone. It requires all elements of our national power, working together in concert with our allies and our partners.

So I’m going to let Leon and Marty go into the details. But I just want to say that this effort reflects the guidance that I personally gave throughout this process. Yes, the tide of war is receding. But the question that this strategy answers is what kind of military will we need long after the wars of the last decade are over. And today, we’re fortunate to be moving forward from a position of strength.

As I made clear in Australia, we will be strengthening our presence in the Asia Pacific, and budget reductions will not come at the expense of that critical region. We’re going to continue investing in our critical partnerships and alliances, including NATO, which has demonstrated time and again -- most recently in Libya -- that it’s a force multiplier. We will stay vigilant, especially in the Middle East.

As we look beyond the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan -- and the end of long-term nation-building with large military footprints -- we’ll be able to ensure our security with smaller conventional ground forces. We’ll continue to get rid of outdated Cold War-era systems so that we can invest in the capabilities that we need for the future, including intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, counterterrorism, countering weapons of mass destruction and the ability to operate in environments where adversaries try to deny us access.

So, yes, our military will be leaner, but the world must know the United States is going to maintain our military superiority with armed forces that are agile, flexible and ready for the full range of contingencies and threats.

We’re also going to keep faith with those who serve, by making sure our troops have the equipment and capabilities they need to succeed, and by prioritizing efforts that focus on wounded warriors, mental health and the well-being of our military families. And as our newest veterans rejoin civilian life, we’ll keep working to give our veterans the care, the benefits and job opportunities that they deserve and that they have earned.

Finally, although today is about our defense strategy, I want to close with a word about the defense budget that will flow from this strategy. The details will be announced in the coming weeks. Some will no doubt say that the spending reductions are too big; others will say that they’re too small. It will be easy to take issue with a particular change in a particular program. But I’d encourage all of us to remember what President Eisenhower once said -- that “each proposal must be weighed in the light of a broader consideration: the need to maintain balance in and among national programs.” After a decade of war, and as we rebuild the source of our strength -- at home and abroad -- it’s time to restore that balance.

I think it’s important for all Americans to remember, over the past 10 years, since 9/11, our defense budget grew at an extraordinary pace. Over the next 10 years, the growth in the defense budget will slow, but the fact of the matter is this: It will still grow, because we have global responsibilities that demand our leadership. In fact, the defense budget will still be larger than it was toward the end of the Bush administration. And I firmly believe, and I think the American people understand, that we can keep our military strong and our nation secure with a defense budget that continues to be larger than roughly the next 10 countries combined.

So again, I want to thank Secretary Panetta, Chairman Dempsey, all the defense leaders who are on this stage, and some who are absent, for their leadership and their partnership throughout this process. Our men and women in uniform give their very best to America every single day, and in return they deserve the very best from America. And I thank all of you for the commitment to the goal that we all share: keeping America strong and secure in the 21st century, and keeping our Armed Forces the very best in the world.

And with that, I will turn this discussion over to Leon and to Marty, who can explain more and take your questions.

So thank you very much. I understand this is the first time a President has done this. It’s a pretty nice room. (Laughter.)

Thank you guy