The Obama administration is working on cutting back defense spending to levels the U.S. hasn’t seen since before Sept. 11, 2001, but the proposed changes have more to do with economic reasons than any big strategic change from within military ranks, as The New York Times explained Thursday.

The New York Times:

The White House has ordered the Pentagon to squeeze almost all growth from its spending over the next five years, which will require eventually shrinking the Army and Marine Corps and seeking controversial increases in the fees paid by retired, working-age veterans for their health insurance, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said Thursday.

The reductions of up to 47,000 troops from the Army and Marine Corps forces — roughly 6 percent shrinkage — would be the first since the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, reversing the trend ever since. They will be made easier by the withdrawal under way from Iraq, and will only begin in 2015 — just as Afghan forces are to take over the security mission there according to agreements with NATO.

But Mr. Gates said the cuts in Pentagon spending were hardly a peace dividend, and were forced by a global economic recession and domestic pressures to find ways to throttle back federal spending.

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