WASHINGTON -- In a rare appearance at the Pentagon Thursday, the nation's commander in chief announced a new strategy for America's military -- a strategy to save money.
"I called for this comprehensive defense review, to clarify our strategic interests in a fast-changing world, and to guide our defense priorities and spending over the coming decade," President Obama said.
"Because the size and structure of our military and defense budget have to be driven by a strategy, not the other way around," he added.
The defense cuts amount to more than $450 billion over the next decade. The White House is not yet releasing details, only broad strokes of the strategy.
The plan will include a smaller joint force that's more agile and flexible.
It will also include the use of "innovative" methods to sustain a presence in certain regions, including rotating deployments and a sharper focus on the Middle East and Asia -- regions where military leaders anticipate the greatest challenges in the future.
"So yes, our military will be leaner," the president acknowledged. "But the world must know, the United States is going to maintain our military superiority with armed forces that are agile, flexible and ready for the full range of contingencies and threats."
The cuts were decided after a review by top brass at the Pentagon -- and the president -- who played an active role.
"Make no mistake, we will have the capability to confront and defeat more than one adversary at a time," Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta said.
Congress had already put the brakes on military appropriations to reflect the end of the war in Iraq and troop draw down in Afghanistan.
In a preemptive move, Obama addressed the criticism he knows is coming from some Republicans who believe the defense cuts are too big.
He pointed out that America's defense spending is still larger than the next 10 countries combined.
"I would encourage all of us to remember what President Eisenhower once said, that 'each proposal must be weighed in the light of a broader consideration: the need to maintain balance in and among national programs,'" Obama said.
"After a decade of war, and as we rebuild the sources of our strength-at home and abroad-it's time to restore that balance," he added.
Details about the cuts are expected in the coming weeks.