Pentagon to unveil plan guiding big spending cuts

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WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Pentagon is unveiling a strategy designed to manage hundreds of billions in budget cuts without sapping the military's strength.

The strategy is expected to serve as a framework for shifting the military's focus from fighting post-9/11 wars in the greater Middle East to preserving America's dominant position in Asia amid a Chinese military buildup.

In a presidential election year the strategy also provides the White House a rhetorical tool to defend its Pentagon budget-cutting choices.

The strategy is to be outlined at a news conference Thursday by Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and the Joint Chiefs chairman, Army Gen. Martin Dempsey.

It is not expected to mark a radical change in defense priorities. It may set the stage, however, for cutbacks in Europe and big weapons programs.