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No 21st Century Hollow Force: The country is now at a "strategic turning point," after a decade at war and large defense expenditures, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta told reporters at the Pentagon Thursday during the rollout of the Obama Administration's new defense strategy. While the process of formulating the strategy was guided by rigorous analysis and "not by the numbers alone," the congressionally mandated $487 billion reduction in defense spending through Fiscal 2021 has given the Defense Department the opportunity to reshape itself, said Panetta. The United States must maintain the world's finest military to support America's "unique global leadership role," and must avoid a hollow force by having a smaller, more ready, and well equipped military rather than one which has been "arbitrarily" sized, he said. "Let me be clear," he explained, "We will continue to conduct a complex set of missions ranging from countering terrorism and weapons of mass destruction to maintaining a safe, secure, and effective nuclear deterrent." DOD will continue to weed out waste and reform, he noted, but Congress needs to act to help stave off the effects of the Budget Control Act's sequestration mechanism that would mandate hundreds of billions of additional cuts. (Panetta's remarks) (Obama-Panetta-Dempsey transcript)