Pentagon budget: top 3 winners and losers

In Pentagon parlance, the word “cut” is a relative term. The Defense Department’s base budget decreases from $553 billion this year to $525 billion in 2013, but it rebounds steadily to $567 billion in 2017. With this in mind, here are the top three winners and losers:

Winner No. 2: Special Operations Forces

Maya Alleruzzo/AP/File
US Special Operations forces are seen during a joint operation with Afghan National Army soldiers targeting insurgents operating in Afghanistan's Farah Province in this 2009 photo.

Even as the Pentagon shrinks the size of the Army and Marine Corps, it will be expanding the use of its Special Operations Forces (SOF) troops. Though the military will be “smaller and leaner,” Panetta says, it will also be “agile, flexible, ready, and more technologically advanced.”

The small teams of SOF forces that targeted Osama bin Laden and rescued an American hostage from Somali pirates will be increasingly operating from what US military officials describe as small “lily pad” bases around the globe.

The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin Dempsey, cited the new capabilities of SOF forces as some of the US military’s most significant achievements of the past decade.

Even as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan come to an end, “Elsewhere in the world, the gradual drawdown of post-9/11 wars will provide more opportunities for Special Operations Forces to advise and assist partners in other regions,” Panetta told reporters.

By elsewhere in the world, US officials tend to stress places like Yemen, the federal administered tribal areas of Pakistan, and Somalia.

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