$42 billion war-spending cut? It’s a start.

President Obama’s proposed budget for 2012 calls for a 26 percent decrease in military spending. According to Bloomberg News, the $117 billion in military spending would be the lowest expenditures for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2005. The Pentagon’s request for fiscal 2011 is $159 billion.

“That’s the largest year-to-year decrease in total war funding since” the Afghan war began, Todd Harrison, a defense budget analyst for the nonpartisan Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments in Washington, said in an e-mail. “

If you like big numbers, here are some others that can help put the new budget into perspective:

  • From Sept. 2001 through Sept. 30, 2010, Congress has authorized $1.2 trillion to pay for military operations, base security embassy costs and other items.
  • For the first three months of fiscal year 2010, the Pentagon spent a monthly average of $4.3 billion in Afghanistan and $3.4 billion in Iraq.
  • In fiscal year 2008, the Pengaton averaged $10.9 billion a month for Iraq and $2.7 billion for Afghanistan.

What does the proposed cut mean? According to AlterNet, “It will force the Army and Marine Corps to reduce the number of troops on active duty and eventually freeze military spending for the first time since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.”

According to news reports, the cuts reflect an intention by the Obama administration to reduce the number of troops in Afghanistan. Of course, it falls far short of a declaration of a full withdrawal from Afghanistan, but, at minimum, it’s a step in the right direction.