US President Barack Obama on Wednesday proposed a $526.6-billion base budget for the Defense Department in fiscal year 2014, as the Pentagon struggles to provide funds for its strategic rebalance to the Asia Pacific amid mandatory budget cuts.The request keeps defense spending at about the same level as in 2013, which would pay for personnel, weapons research and development, procurement and operation and maintenance of the military. It doesn't include war cost in Afghanistan and mandatory budget cuts known as sequestration, which could be over $100 billion combined."This budget made important investments in the president's new strategic guidance -- including rebalancing to the Asia-Pacific region and increasing funding for critical capabilities such as cyber, special operations, and global mobility," said Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel.According to a summary of the proposal provided by the Pentagon, the budget would provide funds to "support key aspects of the initiative to rebalance posture and presence to emphasize the Asia/ Pacific region and the Middle East." In the Asia-Pacific, funds are included for hardening of airfields, protection of critical strike capabilities such as bombers and F-22 squadrons, and developing Guam as a strategic hub. Funding is also requested to support "strengthening and deepening partnerships in the Asia-Pacific."However, experts believe the Pentagon's spending request would only be a wish list, as the two parties are still bitterly divided over budget cuts. Travis Sharp, a non-resident fellow at the Center for a New American Security (CNAS), noted that defense spending levels will likely have to be reduced beyond the budget request by the Congress because it exceeds the caps imposed by sequestration.The defense budget request is a "placebo, a placeholder with no effect," said Sharp.