Bolton decries defense cuts

Defense Secretary Robert Gates recently announced $78 billion in defense spending cuts that could affect funds used to counter biological and chemical weapons.

Former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and potential presidential candidate John Bolton did not react positively to the news, according to

“We’ve got a lot of threats out there that we’re not ready for," Bolton said, according to "Not just nuclear proliferation, but chemical and biological weapons. This is not the time to cut back. I understand there’s a lot of pressure to get deficits down. I’m all in favor of it. But national security comes first, pure and simple, as far as I’m concerned.”

The proposed cuts appear to reflect Congresses growing concern about the budget deficit. For Gates’ part, there is speculation that the cuts were made to preempt Congress for making deeper ones later on.

Gates made the announcement on January 6.

“We must be mindful of the difficult economic and fiscal situation facing our nation,” Gates told reporters at the Pentagon, according to Bloomberg. “The department can’t expect Congress to approve budget increases each year unless we are doing a good job - indeed, everything possible to make every dollar count.”

Gates announced plans to cut support contractor spending by a quarter over three years and to close a military base in Norfolk, Virginia, that coordinates planning and training across military branches. Purchases of the number of F-35 joint strike fighters will be drastically reduced.

The Marine Corps may be affected more than most branches of the armed services. Their numbers will be cut by 20,000, or 10 percent. Several of its weapons programs will also be trimmed.