Courtesy Reuters

A new era of budget-cutting has begun in Washington, and the Pentagon is in the crosshairs. Desperate to reduce expenditures anywhere they can, the country's elected leaders are turning to national defense. In 2011, the Pentagon's base budget was $530 billion, plus an additional $159 billion for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Total defense spending is now 73 percent higher than in 2001 in real terms, and it makes up about 20 percent of the federal budget -- a figure exceeded only by Social Security. 

Last summer's debt ceiling debate and the resulting Budget Control Act have put Congress on a path to cut defense

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