Inside DOD

By Amber Corrin

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From top DOD brass, more warnings against sequester cuts

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, in a Pentagon briefing Sept. 20, both reiterated previous warnings against the “devastating” cuts to defense spending that could result from the institution of a sequestration that would level billions in across-the-board budget cuts.

To avoid the sequestration, which would automatically kick in if a congressional supercommittee charged with identifying federal savings fails to agree on action, Panetta said he is focusing his efforts on protecting against potentially detrimental reductions in defense spending.

“There will be tough decisions and tough trade-offs. This will force us to take on greater risk,” Panetta said, adding that his goal is to ensure inevitable risks are acceptable by maintaining the all-volunteer force and securing core national interests. “We still face a devastating [sequestration] that will make us unable to protect against a range of threats.”

He also warned that the impact of sequestration-enacted cuts would hurt more than just defense and national security, stressing that drastic reductions and the cancellation of major weapons programs also would cripple the industrial base.

Panetta recently said that the sequestration cuts could add 1 percent to the national unemployment rate from job losses in government, military and private sector jobs within the defense industrial base. Citing a new Pentagon analysis, DOD spokesman George Little said the defense industrial base provides 3.8 million private sector jobs, per the Associated Press.

In what was likely his last press conference as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Mullen echoed Panetta’s comments and pressed for aggressive action in identifying savings within DOD.

“These must be strategy-driven decisions ... that start with a clear-eyed assessment. We should end missions and capabilities that don’t comport with our strategy,” Mullen said.

Both officials stressed the need to see the budget pressure as a chance to trim the excess in DOD budgets.

“We should use this as an opportunity to shape the very best defense we can for this country ... so we can take on the threats we face over the next 10 years,” Panetta said. “We have an opportunity to set priority here.”

Posted by Amber Corrin on Sep 20, 2011 at 12:14 PM

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Reader comments

Mon, Jan 16, 2012

They should start by analyzing the GS civilian workforce and cut the fat there.

Mon, Oct 31, 2011

Lets start by shutting down all the unecessary bases in Europe and Asia. Then get Halliburton off the govt. dol.

Mon, Oct 17, 2011 Lisa NOVA

Dave K - your assessment is naive as well. There's a reason why there is a 10 year analysis of a current year budget. The bottom line is this. We should have PAID OFF the national debt by October of 2008 and had a little left over in Jan 2009, based on the 10 year CBO analysis in Jan 2001. But instead we had over 11 T in debt. This is not a minor over sight or something that is fixed with "current year" budgeting. It's something that takes years, sometimes up to a decade to "unscrew". But the bottom line is this ... no one wants to pay taxes. But even the most ardent so-called conservatives are "closet socialists". Until that stops, our politicians, both Democrat and Republican will be kicking that fiscal budget can down the road (even Clinton and Gingrich did it with SS IOU's!!).

Mon, Sep 26, 2011 Dave K

Olde Sarge, you can hold the previous administration responsible for its deficits, but you must hold the current administration responsible for the last two year’s deficits, as well! Whether you like it or not, a deficit is a current year problem, it doesn’t carry over… that’s what the debt is!

Thu, Sep 22, 2011 Olde Sarge DC

Ms. Renicker, lay off the yelling, it doesn't help the message at all. Second, don't blame this President for the former administrations deficit spending tht is precipitating the budget crisis. Yes, it will be better for DoD to strategically plan its budget cutting, but cut it must! Lest you forget, it is Congress who appropriates, not the Whitehouse. The President and the federal agencies must work within the funding provided by Congress. The problem lately has been Congress appropriating (spending) beyond what the government is taking in. Do you think the misguided tax cuts might be a factor here?

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