Secretary Gates: On deficit, Defense Department is 'not the problem'

Gates in May initiated a sweeping drive to save $100 billion over the next five years by reducing bureaucratic bloat and scrutinizing the defense budget.

The defense chief’s goal is to protect the overall Pentagon budget from any cuts. By making Pentagon operations more efficient, Gates wants to free up money for weapons systems modernization and the fighting forces.

The Pentagon budget represents more than half of the government’s discretionary spending. Overall, the chairmen propose $200 billion in cuts to discretionary spending, with half coming from defense spending.

The deficit reduction panel is expected to make its final recommendations by Dec. 1. Obama commissioned the panel to find ways to reduce the federal budget deficit to about 3 percent of gross domestic product by 2015. The budget deficit was at 8.9 percent of GDP in fiscal year 2010, which ended Oct. 30.

Cuts to defense are expected to face stiff resistance from members of the commission and Congress.