Gates: Pentagon Must Do Its Part in Deficit Reduction

BY News Desk  January 6, 2011 at 5:49 PM EDT

Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Thursday that he’d cut $78 billion from the Pentagon’s budget in the coming five years by shrinking the military ground force, raising health care premiums for troops and some other politically unpopular cost-saving measures.

“”We are not exempt from scrutiny and being asked to figure out what we are doing with less dollars,” he said at a news conference, according to The Associated Press.

Gates sat down with Jim Lehrer Thursday afternoon to discuss the plan to reduce military spending. Here’s a preview of their discussion:

Gates, who leaves for China on Sunday, said he hopes to use the four-day trip to seek areas of common interest with Beijing, ranging from Iran’s nuclear program to counter-piracy to protect imports and exports.

He told Jim Lehrer that the U.S. must be mindful of the massive Chinese military modernization program, but that there is no reason for China to be an adversary of the U.S., particularly in the military sense.

Tune in to Thursday’s NewsHour for the full interview or check back online for the video and transcript.