From San Diego: Ash Carter Talks About Pentagon Budget, Drafting Women

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Secretary of Defense Ash Carter looks over an F-35 fighter jet at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, Feb. 3, 2016.

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From San Diego: Ash Carter Talks About Pentagon Budget, Drafting Women

Defense Secretary Ash Carter made two stops in San Diego on Wednesday: first a Navy base and then a Marine base. He talked about the Pentagon's budget and weighed in on drafting women.

The Pentagon's budget plan over the next five years will focus on investing in more high-end naval ships and a newly modified defense missile able to also target ships at long range, Carter said.

Carter told sailors at Naval Base San Diego that the plan includes spending $2.9 billion for the modified SM-6 missile.

The new surface-to-air weapon known for its ability to stop incoming ballistic and cruise missiles proved in recent tests to be able to attack and destroy enemy ships at sea.

The plan also calls for $600 million to be invested in unmanned undersea vehicles. In addition, the Pentagon is budgeting for nine new Virginia-class submarines, 10 new warships, 13 more F-35 fighter jets, and 16 more F/A-18E/F fighters than initially planned, Carter said.

“And again, you’ll note in the (20)17 budget that we are buying more F-35s than we planned to,” Carter said. Buying the new aircraft, he said, is cheaper than maintaining older aircraft.

The Navy will buy 40 new Littoral Combat Ships instead of the original 52, which will free up $8 billion over the next 10 years to pay for the new strategy, Carter said. Overall the number of ships will go from about 280 to 308.

Carter said the budget would make the fleet larger and much more effective, potent and lethal.

The Pentagon's proposed 2017 spending plan will be unveiled next week as part of the federal budget proposal.

After visiting sailors, Carter traveled to Marine Corps Air Station Miramar where he met with Marines and talked to reporters.

One of the topics was his reaction to comments by top U.S. Marine Corps and Army generals on Tuesday that women should now have to register for the draft after Carter cleared the way in December for women to serve in all combat positions.

One female Marine at Miramar Air Station asked whether Carter agreed that women should have to register for the draft.

“That is the law, so that’s not something we decide," Carter said. "Congress would have to decide. It stands to reason that congress is going to have to think this thing through. And would have to change the law, accordingly. I expect them to take this up.”

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