Will Obama’s ‘Leaner’ Military Plan be Felt on Brevard’s Bases?

The U.S. will have a “smaller and leaner” military force as outlined by President Barack Obama’s strategy announced Thursday to cut defense spending.

Until more details emerge and Congress addresses the issues in the coming months, it’s uncertain exactly how the Space Coast will be affected. However, financial analysts are optimistic about the future for defense contractors like Harris Corp., Brevard County’s largest employer.

In addition, because of the emphasis that would be placed on intelligence gathering, surveillance and communication, Patrick Air Force Base and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station — where military satellites are launched — are expected to see a positive impact.

“I would say that the intelligence, reconnaissance and surveillance are areas less likely to be cut back,” said Lawrence Harris, a financial analyst with CL King Associates.

Harris, who has no connection to the company of same name that employs 6,500 on the Space Coast, said that although the details and how Congress will respond are unknown, he sees no adverse effect for Harris Corp. or the county. Existing contracts with the Department of Defense, such as for mapping and software development, should remain intact.

“I don’t think that’s going to change significantly,” Harris said.

The new defense strategy outlined by Obama includes $487 billion in cuts during the next decade. An additional $500 billion in cuts could be coming if Congress follows through with plans for deeper reductions. The announcement comes weeks after the U.S. officially ended the Iraq War and after a decade of increased defense spending in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks.

Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Orlando, said large standing armies in Europe are not needed anymore and that the president wants to focus on capabilities of quick-strike forces. He said that under the proposal, the United States may not be able to fight two sustained wars at the same time, but could build up the forces if necessary.

Nelson said that while cuts will have to be across the board, he does not see any negative impact on the Space Coast.

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