The congressional "Super Committee" by most accounts is working feverishly to get some sort of deal that would avoid triggering an automatic $1.2 trillion set of cuts across government accounts. The committee's work has been done mostly in secret -- though some are reporting that the Republicans on the committee have dug in their heels against any form of tax increases.
But what has reached me through a senior national security official is that the level of likely defense cuts that would be part of a potential deal is approximately $465 billion. I don't know whether that figure is a 10-year cut target, or 12-year, as there are two calendars floating.
Earlier this year, President Obama called for $350 billion in defense cuts over ten years -- but also used a figure of $400 billion in defense cuts through 2023, or 12 years.
A senior Obama national security official made the sensible comment to me that the President knows he has very hard choices ahead and that the cutting edge of global affairs will not be in the Middle East but will be in Asia. He said that the defense portfolio and commitments had to be rebalanced -- that too much of America's capacity and focus was in the Middle East/South Asia.