Gates: US defense cuts mean tough strategic choices

WASHINGTON - US Defense Secretary Robert Gates said on Thursday his main goal before stepping down next month is to focus attention on strategic choices facing the nation as it flattens military spending to help curb the growing national debt.
He spoke hours after the House of Representatives Armed Services Committee authorized $690 billion for the US military complex in fiscal 2012, including $119 billion to fund the war in Afghanistan and transition in Iraq.
The sum cleared by the committee for the year starting Oct. 1 represented a small increase from the current fiscal year. It is projected to be a high-water mark as the wars wind down along with a post-Sept. 11 military spending surge.