Panetta orders defense cuts before Congress does
January 10th, 2013
06:14 PM ET

Panetta orders defense cuts before Congress does

By CNN Staff

U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has ordered the military to begin implementing cost-cutting measures aimed at mitigating the risk of significant budget cuts should Congress fail to reach a deal in coming months to avert or soften them.

"We have no idea what the hell is going to happen," Panetta said Thursday.

He has asked services to begin "prudent" measures, including curtailing maintenance for non-critical activities and delaying hiring.

The measures must be "reversible" and minimize harmful impacts on military readiness, Panetta told reporters at the Pentagon.

Military departments have also been told to report on how they would implement deep automatic spending cuts, called sequester, and enforce unpaid leave for civilian employees should the reductions occur.

Panetta and Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey have warned Congress that uncertainty over the absence of a long-term spending agreement, debt-ceiling concerns and the lack of a full congressional budget process is extremely harmful.

While the fiscal cliff compromise in early January in Congress put off the sequester, the issue is coming around again in February and March and lawmakers and the White House are bracing for another bruising political fight.

Panetta, who in the past has said nearly $500 billion in mandatory defense cuts over 10 years under sequestration would be a "meat ax" approach to budget-cutting and would "hollow out the force," took a different spin in a memo in late December.

Panetta wrote in the memo to troops and civilians in the Defense Department that overall funding for the fiscal year ending in September would be reduced, but sequestration would not necessarily mean immediate spending reductions.

He tried to reassure troops that President Barack Obama "indicated his intent to exercise his legal authority to exempt military personnel" from the cuts.

But the same promise couldn't be made to the Defense Department's civilian employees. Instead Panetta said the agency may "have to consider" furloughs should it have to operate under reduced funding levels for "an extended period of time."


Filed under: Budget • Defense Spending • Military • Panetta • Secretary of Defense • Sequestration
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      January 13, 2013 at 12:51 pm | Reply
  85. DaveW

    Good for Panetta. Let's get out of Afghanistan, close most of our foreign bases and reduce our out-of-control military spending. If we cut our annual military spending by 50% we'd still be spending three times more than any other country on the planet.

    January 12, 2013 at 5:11 pm | Reply
    • JohnParryJones

      Our military could make substantial cuts without skipping a beat. Begin with eliminating waste and spoilage. Then eliminate the too cozy relationship between the Pentagon and some defense industry contractors and projects.

      January 12, 2013 at 5:18 pm | Reply
  86. Sam

    How can the House and Senate reach a deal. They are on Recess most of the first 2 months. NO working but on another vacation. When is this going to stop. The house works only 126 days this year. What a racket, taking full pay and benefits and doing nothing. I don't think the voters voted for that. They are not working for the people, but themselves

    January 12, 2013 at 6:56 am | Reply
    • TPhan

      If that is the case, through them out in the next election.

      January 12, 2013 at 1:52 pm | Reply
    • NAM VET

      I THINK THERE ARE THOSE IN CONGRESS WHO UNDERSTAND WHO THEY WORK FOR. BUT MOST HAVE AGENDAS
      THAT ARE AT ODDS TO THIS COUNTRY. THE DEMS WOULD SEE US AS SURFS FOR THEIR OWN ENDS. SOME OTHERS HAVE ANAGENDA FOR THIS COUNTRY BUT WITH LEFT LEANER WEINNERS WITH AN AGENDA THAT
      SERVES ONLY THE SOCIALISTS WE HAVE IN OUR MIDST. THIS SEEMS LIKE A REVOLUTION WAITNG TO HAPPEN.
      GOD FORBID THAT. AGAIN IN OUR HISTORY.

      January 13, 2013 at 1:07 pm | Reply
    • NAM VET

      CONGRESS HAS TO MUCH TIME OFF–THE NEEDS OF THE POPLE AND COUNTRY SHOULD BE 1ST AND FORMOST. IN THE PRIVATE SECTOR WE AS MEMBERS OF MNGT. DID NOT LEAVE UNTILL THE JOB WAS DONE. WE WERE AS WE WERE IN THE MILITARY 24/7 WAS THE RULE AND IT GOT RESULTS. IF THE JOB IS TO TOUGH FOR THEM THEY NEED
      TO FIND OTHER EMPLOYMENT. WE ARE ALL REPACEABLE,NO MATTER WHAT POSITION WE HOLD IN LIFE. NO
      NEED TO WAIT FOR THE NEXT ELECTION–DO THE RIGHT THING AND SHAG ASS FOLKS FOR GODS SAKE--

      January 13, 2013 at 1:42 pm | Reply
  87. NNN

    This is at least 30 years past due especially as it applies to the bloated DoD civilian workforce, the most underworked overpaid p a r a s i t e s on the government payroll. DoD acquisition and R & D is a standing joke and has been for decades. Hagel will straighten them out.

    January 12, 2013 at 12:40 am | Reply
    • jjb

      Spoken like a true republican without a clue! The overpaid – underworked glut in DOD is all the contracters that have been padding the politicans pockets for the last 30 years. Get a clue and stop listening to the dipstick republicans – if they really want to get serious about cuts go back to the days when Military and DOD civilians ran things not the contractors and then and only then will you see real savings! Have you ever been to DC? Doesn't sound like it. THINK BEFORE YOU SPEAK BECAUSE YOU HAVEN'T A CLUE! As long as congress refuses to get serious aboy real cuts to inlude all the subsidies to all these "JOB CREATORS" things will never get better. If it makes you feel better babble on about things you know nothing about and hopefully you're never put in the same situation.

      January 12, 2013 at 5:31 am | Reply
      • NNN

        You seem to be overlooking the history of the necessity to shifting most of the workload into the contractor sector was precisely because the government civilians were not capable of performing the work! If there is any major waste in spending on contractors it is once again precisely because of incompetent DoD civilian employee oversight. How about we just employ the same standards of job performance to the DoD civilian workforce as we do throughout industry, which is if they can't do the job, terminate them.

        January 12, 2013 at 6:47 am |
    • Erich

      Wow. Sounds like someone got passed over for a DoD position and is a little upset. I am one of those parasites you are talking about and a disabled vet. I do my job daily, yes actual work. The contractors came in because we keep going and going to a leaner force and guess what? Allot of those people were getting deployed and civilian companies were whining they weren’t getting a piece of the pie so now they are. I deal with them quite a bit. If anything is not verbatim in their contract they don’t do it and it costs the tax payers whenever there is a deviation in their contract. Contractors can also go on strike which disabled an entire airfield before halting the mission. Oh, and we do get rid of people that don’t do their jobs as they are supposed to and are professionals. Wait to see what happens to the economy when we go over the cliff. You have heard of a hollow military? So have our enemies and they will take advantage of this opportunity. There are many programs and agencies out there that can be cut. DoD is just the easiest to complain about.

      January 12, 2013 at 4:51 pm | Reply
      • NNN

        You have a really oversimplified view of things and your knowledge of DoD spending seems to be very limited. DoD is targeted for the largest cuts because it is responsible for the most waste.

        January 13, 2013 at 10:12 am |
      • NAM VET

        ANY ASS HOLE WHO WORKS FOR THE DOD WHO IS UNIONIZED IS IN THE WRONG EMPLOYMENT. NO ONE STRIKES
        IN A SUCH A SITUATION. MAY BE I READ YOU WRONG ON YOU COMMENT. –YOU TELL ME--–

        January 13, 2013 at 1:50 pm |
    • Jeff

      Neither one of you really understand what you are talking about. Contractors were hired because it's cheaper in the long run. It's also less capable. DoD RDA requires intense, ongoing education and certifications of it's civilian acquisition work force that takes years to aquire (see DAU).

      January 13, 2013 at 10:23 am | Reply
      • NNN

        Less capable??? You can't be serious! The whole DAWIA reform thing was a nice try but a total failure in practice. The DoD personnel engage in wholesale cheating to pass the simple-minded online certification testing. Like most things in DoD it is a sham.

        January 13, 2013 at 3:48 pm |
    • NAM VET

      HAGEL-IS NOT A CHOICE FOR MOST DEMS NOR REPUBS-BUT IS JUST RIGHT AS A YES MAN FOR OB. HE NEEDS
      A KISS ASS TO DO HIS DIRTY DEEDS.----------JUST SAYING----

      January 13, 2013 at 1:13 pm | Reply
  88. NAM VET

    IN ANY WAR EVERYONE SAVE THE TROOPS AND TAX PAYERS DO MAKE MONEY. THAT IS THE BEAST OF WAR.
    EVEN POLITIANS RACK IT IN AS THEY DO SO WELL UNDER THE TABLE. YOU CAN DRAW YOUR OWN IDEAS TO
    SUIT YOUR SELVES AS YOU WILL–THAT IS JUST THE WAY IT IS UNTILL THE END OF TIMES.

    January 11, 2013 at 4:12 pm | Reply
  89. Shobon smart

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    January 11, 2013 at 12:56 pm | Reply
    • NAM VET

      I DON'T THINK THE DEMS ARE RECYLABLE THEY HAVE GONE OFF THE EDGE AND ONLY RECOURSE IS TO
      SEND THEM TO THE STATE HOUSE FOR THE INSANE. -----–THAT WOULD BE THE WHITE HOUSE AS IT
      IS PART OF THE PROB. AND NOT PART OF THE SOLUTION. WE THE PEOPLE ARE NOT IMPORTANT TO THIS ADMIN.
      AS OB SEE'S HIMSELF AS --NOT SURE–WHAT EVER DREAM HE WAKES UP WITH I GUESS.-–

      January 11, 2013 at 3:13 pm | Reply
      • DaveW

        Turn your caps lock off please.

        January 12, 2013 at 5:06 pm |
      • bereasonable2

        Wow, that was weird..... 😉

        January 12, 2013 at 9:57 pm |
      • bereasonable2

        Do you want the dems living with you at the state house for the insane?

        January 12, 2013 at 10:09 pm |
    • NAM VET

      YOU MUST BE IN REFERENCE TO THE WHITE HOUSE GROUP THAT WANTS TO ABOLISH ALL FREE PEOPLE AS
      A TRASH REMOVABLE NECCESITY.--–GO FISH FELLA----

      January 13, 2013 at 1:18 pm | Reply
  90. Jacob

    Stopping all aid to India would save American taxpayers a ton of money. Plus they wont have to assoctate with a gang r-apist nation !!

    January 11, 2013 at 8:27 am | Reply
  91. J.V.Hodgson

    Sorry but for me the sequester is directionally correct $500bn over 10 years is too much from defense but $300bn is realistic and needed.
    Then as Republicabs have insisted and campaigned on until November 2011 tax reform. The areas open here are corporation taxes, corportae tax loophole closure and a review of income tax allowances and capping some of them
    The corportae tax rate can be lowered from 35% to 28 % over time and paid for in full by loophole closures Bush II research. Staggering this reduction over say 3 years can help pay for infrastructure spending Job training and education spending needed to create more job growth that could yield $500bn off the budget deficit. The we need $300bn from entiitlements and spending cuts. ( NB total cut to Budget deficits $110bn p.a $1.1tr over 10 years lower debt)
    Tha'st a whole bunch of compromise needed from both sides of the aisle, but it works with minimum risk to economic growth which is the real way i.e economic GDP growth ( put another way = jobs jobs , jobs) and Lo and behold the debt to GDP ratio declines.
    Regards,
    Hodgson.

    January 11, 2013 at 3:47 am | Reply
    • israel rules you

      This is a big joke . . . . Panetta is a joke . . . . and if you think we zine-0-ists who own the USA military industrial complex, is going to allow you stupid AMericans to cut the American defense budget . . . .you must be on crack.

      Let's see we have 12 aircraft carrier groups . . . more nukes than you can count in a day, and more oversea bases than the Romans ever had. Gee . . . we have made you stupid Americans spend all your money on us and our needs.

      There is no way in tel-aviv where we are going to allow anything to change. Heck, you stupid Americans are going to need everything you have to keep us living the lifestyle we have become accustomed to. And if we israelis are to rule the Middle East, then we will need you stupid Americans in uniform and on duty to protect us from the towel heads.

      Listen up! You stupid Americans are OUR SLAVES! You do what we tell you to do. Don't talk back to authority, especially from our boys in Washington. Stay stupid and dumb. Watch TV and all your problems will go away. Drink plenty of fluoride water, play with your electronic toys, have gaye affairs, cheat on your wives and husbands, do plenty of drugs and if you get caught . . . .don't drop the soap in the shower in prison . . . .opps! I mean DO DROP the soap in the shower in prison.

      You stupid Americans are dumber than dumb. If you can believe what our boy Bush told you who did 9-11, then you are dumber than dumb.

      We laugh at you in israel . . . .you are a joke, big nose Panetta is a joke . . . .you stupid Ameircans are only good at being stupid.

      NEVER FORGET: WE ARE YOUR MASTERS AND YOU ARE OUR SLAVES!!!

      Yipeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

      January 11, 2013 at 6:27 am | Reply
      • chill

        Have a nice day there in Gaza.

        January 11, 2013 at 9:45 am |
      • NAM VET

        DO YOU GET PAID BY THE LINE OR BY THE POST FROM OB OR HIS GANG. BETTER YET DO YOU CLAIM THE
        PAY ON YOUR TAX RETURN----GOTCH YA------

        January 11, 2013 at 3:37 pm |
      • Erich

        Let me guess, you posted this from an American college here haven’t you? Come on admit it. I’m sure you are a “wanna be” American and hide behind your keyboard. Go have a pulled pork sandwich, a nice glass of cold (cows) milk, and ogle over our American women at the strip joint. I know you people here in America. You hate us but love our country! You are a true representation of your culture…pathetic.

        January 12, 2013 at 4:57 pm |
      • bereasonable2

        I believe you are not an Israeli, but rather an Islamic troll...... Tell the truth or so help me Allah! LMA O

        January 12, 2013 at 9:59 pm |
    • John Campbell

      C'mon, 50 billion a year can easily be done, if the Pentagon finally can stop the F35 boondoggle, plus some of the other expensive weapon projects that do not help us with the wars we are fighting now.

      January 11, 2013 at 10:07 pm | Reply
      • bereasonable2

        Amen to that

        January 12, 2013 at 10:07 pm |
      • Iamnotfooled

        Don't forget they could eliminate the pay-offs in Congress. Especially the GOP House.

        January 13, 2013 at 3:48 am |
  92. James

    Idiot–With a capitol "I"–Good riddance to this guy–

    January 10, 2013 at 8:58 pm | Reply
    • NAM VET

      THE CAPIITAL "T" IS FOR YOU "TERD"

      January 11, 2013 at 3:56 pm | Reply
  93. David

    The funds should all come from the amount paid to private military contractors like Haliburton, easy and done.

    January 10, 2013 at 8:44 pm | Reply
    • NAM VET

      I ASSUME YOU WOULD HAVE OUR TROOPS PROVIDE POWER,MAKE MEALS ,BUILD FACILITIES. DO THE LAUNDERY
      PROVIDE CLEAN WATER, AND STILL FIGHT THE WAR.--–THAT IS JUST A FEW OF THE JOBS THEY DO SO OUR
      WARRIORS CAN DO WHAT THEY ARE TRAINED TO DO.

      January 11, 2013 at 4:06 pm | Reply
      • Marcus

        Makes sense... except contractors charge DoD $100 to $300/hour, including fringe, overhead and profit, for their employees, even for menial jobs.

        January 12, 2013 at 3:00 am |
      • ken

        Nam vet, from your post it is obvious you haven't been on an army post lately. If you had you would know of t he tremendous amount of money being wasted on a daily basis by contractor s being hire d to perform duties such as gua4d,mmaintenance and cleaning, that were previously performed by soldiers. Yes, I was also in Nam but we performed our own maintenance, ARmy cooks pre par3d meals, Naf provided exchange services and soldiers were basically used fin the fields they were taught in. Sure there were a few civilians , but by no meqns did the contraxt force outnumber the gr33n suiter as.

        January 12, 2013 at 8:31 am |
      • bereasonable2

        You may want to consider tapping the old "caps lock" key. Just sayin'

        January 12, 2013 at 10:05 pm |
  94. trex

    .......Time to be spending what the NEXT 10 COUNTRIES SPEND ON DEFENSE.....................rather that what we spend now.......what the next 16 countires spend on Defense.....

    January 10, 2013 at 6:53 pm | Reply
    • George Patton

      Wrong trex, we need to spend no more than the Russians currently are on their military. That way, we may be able to balance the national budget. Try telling that to those right-wing idiots in Washington D.C.!!!

      January 10, 2013 at 7:26 pm | Reply
      • bereasonable2

        I agree with you.... and I am a patriot and a vet...... We need to be smart with our military expenditures.

        January 12, 2013 at 10:03 pm |

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