Obama, Dempsey: Military was due for change — even without budget cuts

During a Pentagon briefing to roll out the Obama administration's new national defense plan, officials told reporters to expect the 2013 budget blueprint in a few weeks.

The commander in chief called this a "moment of transition" in which the "tide of war is receding."

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The budget cuts — $350 billion over a decade — led Obama to order the Pentagon to lead an effort to craft a new national defense strategy for a more austere era. (The Defense Department estimates that will lead to a $487 billion reduction to planned spending.)

Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey told reporters that even if the budget cuts not been mandated, "we would change" with the Iraq war ending, the Afghanistan conflict winding down and amid a foreign policy shift toward the Asia-Pacific region.

During a lighter moment, Obama said his appearance in the Pentagon briefing room was the first by a sitting commander in chief. Of the space, Obama noted: "Nice room."