President Barack Obama and Pentagon leaders pledged to end “Cold War” weapon systems when discussing the Pentagon’s strategic review recently, but shared no details about program cancellations that will be unveiled in five weeks.

Obama told reporters at the Pentagon that the Defense Department’s recently completed strategic review–a comprehensive military examination intended to identify $487 billion in reductions to planning defense spending over the next decade–will guide efforts to strengthen the U.S. presence in the Asia Pacific, shrink the size of conventional ground forces, and cut weapon systems, which he did not name.

“We’ll continue to get rid of outdated Cold War-era systems so that we can invest in the capabilities we need for the future, including intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR), counterterrorism, countering weapons of mass destruction, and the ability to operate in environments where adversaries try to deny us access,” the president said in an unprecedented visit to the Pentagon press room. “So yes, our military will be leaner, 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.”

Obama and military leaders including Defense Secretary Leon Panetta shied away during a press briefing from sharing details on weapon-system changes the administration will propose before the Pentagon sends Congress a five-year defense budget proposal, with $263 billion in cuts, the week of Feb. 6.

Panetta told reporters recently a $487 billion reduction to the Pentagon’s 10-year spending plans, mandated by the Budget Control Act of 2011, must be made “with everything on the table, including politically sensitive areas that will likely provoke opposition from parts of the Congress, from industry and from advocacy groups.” He said at least some specific budget decisions driven by the strategy are not completely finalized.

He declined to name the Cold War systems Obama cited. Yet Panetta said decisions about which programs to trim are tied to deliberations about whether the military can fight two wars simultaneously. Military officials are working to determine which programs, systems, and processes are outdated without tying themselves to a paradigm that is a “residual of the Cold War,” he said. 

As the overall defense budget is pared, the Pentagon will protect and in some cases increase investments in ISR, unmanned systems, space capabilities, cybersecurity, and the capacity to mobilize quickly, he said.

“In some cases, we will be reducing capabilities that we believe no longer are a top priority,” he said. “But in other cases, we will invest in new capabilities to maintain a decisive military edge against a growing array of threats….There’s no question that we have to make some trade-offs and that we will be taking, as a result of that, some level of additional but acceptable risk in the budget plan that we release next month.”

He said the Pentagon will continue working to lower weapons procurement costs, reduce waste and overhead, reform business practices, and consolidate operations.

The press conference with Obama and Pentagon brass coincided with the release of a summary of the strategic review, titled “Sustaining U.S. Global Leadership: Priorities for 21st Century Defense.” The eight-page report on last year’s comprehensive roles-and-missions review does not include budget figures or weapon-system proposals.

Instead, the document says the joint force will need to “recalibrate its capabilities and make selective additional investments” to succeed in 10 missions. Those range from irregular warfare and counterinsurgency operations to cybersecurity and maintaining a nuclear deterrent.

The report provides guiding principles for the Pentagon to follow when adjusting its strategy, including maintaining “a broad portfolio of military capabilities that, in the aggregate, offer versatility across the range of missions described.”

“Wholesale divestment of the capability to conduct any mission would be unwise, based on historical and projected uses of U.S. military forces and our inability to predict the future,” it says.

The strategy plan says the Pentagon “will make every effort to maintain an adequate industrial base.” It calls for investing in science and technology to, in part, ensure the United States and partner nations can operate in contested environments.

The Pentagon “will both encourage a culture of change and be prudent with its ‘seed corn,’ balancing reductions necessitated by resource pressures with the imperative to sustain key streams of innovation that may provide significant long-term payoffs,” it says.

The strategy document says the Pentagon sought to account for its ability “to make a course change that could be driven by many factors, including shocks or evolutions in the strategic, operational, economic, and technological spheres.”

Thus, it says the “concept of ‘reversibility’–including the vectors on which we place our industrial base, our people, our active-reserve component balance, our posture, and our partnership emphasis–is a key part of our decision calculus.”

Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton Carter explained to reporters recently that “reversibility” is a mechanism Pentagon officials used “to remind ourselves that we want to act in such a way that we, to the extent we can with a $487 billion cut, preserve options for the future.”

Thus, he said, “as we make program changes, we want to make sure that 10 years, 15 years from now, we still have an industrial base that supports our key weapon systems even if we’re not able to buy in those areas at the rates or in the volume that we had planned before we were handed this $487 billion cut.”

The eight-page strategy document further calls for resisting the “temptation to sacrifice readiness in order to retain force structure” and taking “extra measures to retain and build on key advancements in networked warfare” in which joint forces have become interdependent.

The Pentagon faces additional longterm budget cuts of $600 billion, on top of the $487 billion reduction, that could come under the Budget Control Act.  The law says if the now-defunct Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction and Congress could not approve a plan to cut at least $1.2 trillion in federal spending over 10 years, a sequestration mechanism would trigger $1.2 trillion in cuts in January 2013, with half coming from the Pentagon. The committee failed to craft a plan late last year. Hawkish Republicans are trying to pass legislation to prevent the defense cuts, though Obama and Panetta are calling for Congress to go back to work on crafting an overall deficit-cutting plan to prevent the sequester.

Carter said he believes when lawmakers and the public see the “magnitude of that task that we’ve had to undertake to meet the $487 billion target,” they’ll understand why Pentagon leaders warn so harshly against sequestration.

“So I think when you see what (the forthcoming budget-cutting proposal) is, people are going to easily understand why sequester would be so disastrous, he argued.

Some lawmakers are working on plans to avoid the defense sequestration cuts.

House Armed Services Committee Chairman Howard “Buck” McKeon (R-Calif.) unveiled legislation last month that would reduce the federal workforce to fund a one-year reprieve from the $1.2 billion in sequestration cuts.

Sens. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) said last month they will craft a bill to replace the $600 billion in sequestration cuts to defense with other government savings.

Meanwhile, Panetta, who briefed the heads of the congressional defense committees on the new strategy recently, said he knows some lawmakers will fight the forthcoming plan for the $487 billion in cuts. He said, optimistically that “because we based this on a policy of saying this is the kind of defense force we want for the future…if we can all stick to that and if we can all use that as the basis and the foundation for the debate that’s going to take place, I am confident that ultimately Congress will support what we’re trying to do.”

Yet several Republican lawmakers made clear their misgivings about the strategy recently.

McKeon accused Obama of packaging “our retreat from the world in the guise of a new strategy to mask his divestment of our military and national defense.”

“An honest and valid strategy for national defense can’t be founded on the premise that we must do more with less, or even less with less,” the HASC chairman argued. “Rather you proceed from a clear articulation of the full scope of the threats you face and the commitments you have.  You then resource a strategy required to defeat those threats decisively.”

McCain, the ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, warned against a “budget-driven defense strategy” and said he will carefully review the plan unveiled recently.

“I understand the need for reductions in defense spending, but we must also address the broader cultural problem plaguing our defense establishment: the waste, inefficiency, and ineffective programs that result from an overly consolidated military-industrial-congressional complex,” he added in a statement. “We must eliminate the shameless cost overruns that characterize too many of our defense programs. We must cut congressional earmarks and pork-barrel spending on programs that the military does not request and does not need. And we must continue to identify greater efficiencies in our defense budget.”