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The BBC's Bob Berry
"Some critics think that such a reduction could leave the US exposed"
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The BBC's Jonathan Marcus
"Commentators agree that at the moment the sums simply don't add up"
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Friday, 9 February, 2001, 18:54 GMT
Bush orders major defence review
Tomahawk cruise missile launch against Iraq
The Bush team is reassessing US defence priorities
President George W Bush has ordered a comprehensive review of United States defence policy, which could lead to unilateral cuts in nuclear warheads.

The president is shortly expected to order an assessment of how many nuclear weapons the United States needs, with the apparent intention of cutting them from their current level of 7,500 to about 2,500.

Mr Bush said he had told the Defence Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, to examine the whole structure of US forces.

"It's important for us to do a top-to-bottom review - to review all missions, spending priorities - and that's exactly what the Secretary of Defence is going to do. And before people jump to conclusions, I think it's important to get that review finished," he said.

Republican concerns

Some Republican members of Congress have expressed concern that the defence budget is not being increased.

Failed missile test
The US is testing "Son of Star Wars" technology

The BBC's defence correspondent, Jonathan Marcus, says Mr Bush hopes the cuts in nuclear weapons will encourage a more positive response from Russia towards his plans for anti-missile defences.

Russia's arsenal is thought to be in the region of 6,500 warheads and the US Joint Chiefs of Staff have previously warned against any reductions.

Mr Bush has pledged to develop a National Missile Defense (NMD), despite objections from Russia and China and questions raised by Nato members.

Rebuilding and modernising the armed forces was one of the central planks of Mr Bush's campaign for the presidency.

But questions have been raised over how any extensive modernisation would be financed.

Radical changes

The Pentagon faces an era of dramatic technological change with limited resources to modernise and upgrade all of America's military machine.
Donald Rumsfeld
Donald Rumsfeld: Efforts to persuade European leaders
The military review is likely to be headed by Pentagon insider Andrew Marshall - a man who in the past has questioned expensive developments like the F-22 fighter, heavy battle tanks and large carrier battle groups.

Mr Marshall, head of the Pentagon's Office of Net Assessment, its internal think tank, will present preliminary findings next week, according to the New York Times.

The 79-year-old is said to be the only current Pentagon official who participated in the entire Cold War, beginning in 1949 as a nuclear strategist.

A review of personnel issues will be carried out by Admiral David Jeremiah, a former vice-chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Mr Bush wants to integrate a smaller nuclear arsenal with his plans for anti-missile defences, leading to a new strategic doctrine for a new century.

'Son of Star Wars' graphic
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See also:

26 Jan 01 | Americas
Bush confirms 'Star Wars' plan
27 Jan 01 | Americas
The battle over missile defence
12 Jan 01 | UK Politics
Hague backs 'Star Wars' scheme
23 May 00 | Europe
Bush unveils nuclear policy
13 Dec 00 | Asia-Pacific
China tests ballistic missiles
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