Panetta to lay out strategy behind impending defense cuts
Published: January 3, 2012
WASHINGTON – Defense Secretary Leon Panetta on Thursday will lay out the thinking behind several hundred billion dollars’ worth of pruning from future defense budget growth, a Pentagon official said.
But details about the defense programs and personnel from which the cuts will be excised may have to wait until President Barack Obama submits his federal budget proposal. Deadline for the proposal is just over a month from now.
Panetta, who will be joined Thursday by Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey, will focus on how national security priorities are guiding defense cuts, which reportedly are still being finalized. Congress last year mandated more than $450 billion in cuts the Pentagon budget, an amount defense officials say will require difficult decisions but not fundamentally damage national security.
Holding out for a political solution, the Pentagon has refused to budget for an additional $600 billion in cuts that could be imposed if Congress remains deadlocked over how to trim the overall federal budget. Such cuts would create a military that’s not up to current security challenges, Panetta has said.
“This is the strategy component of the budget,” Pentagon press secretary George Little said Tuesday. “I would characterize it as a military strategy – it defines priorities that will guide budget decisions, but also how we posture the U.S. military to address current and future challenges.”
Little said Panetta would be briefing Obama and Vice President Joe Biden later on Tuesday, but would not disclose what the discussion would cover.