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Further Cuts in Pentagon Spending are Unacceptable, Top Senators State

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  • November 14, 2011
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Republican Sens. John McCain (Ariz.) and Lindsey Graham (S.C.) pointed to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta’s most dire description to date of the impact of further cuts in defense spending as the latest evidence that up to $600 billion in automatic defense spending cuts “should not be allowed to occur.”

“We are staunchly opposed to this draconian action. This is not an outcome that we can live with, and it is certainly not one that we should impose on ourselves,” the two lawmakers said Monday of the consequences of the congressional debt supercommittee failing to reach agreement on a deficit reduction plan, resulting in a total, 10-year drop in defense spending approaching $1 trillion.

The senators’ comments came in response to a letter Panetta sent Monday listing cuts in weapons programs, end strength and the civilian workforce that most likely would occur under a worst-case budget scenario.

The immediate impact of a budget sequester would be a 23 percent cut in fiscal 2013 defense spending if the president opted to exempt military personnel. The reduction would need to be applied equally to each major investment and construction program and, as a result, significantly curtail much of the department’s shipbuilding and construction since “you cannot buy three-quarters of a ship or a building,” Panetta wrote.

“We would also be forced to separate many of our civilian personnel involuntarily and, because the reduction would be imposed so quickly, we would almost certainly have to furlough civilians in order to meet the target,” the secretary added.

Beyond FY 2013, DOD spending would be slashed by about $100 billion a year compared with the FY 2012 budget, forcing dramatic cuts in the size of the military.

“Rough estimates suggest after 10 years of these cuts, we would have the smallest ground force since 1940, the smallest number of ships since 1915, and the smallest Air Force in its history. We would also be forced to terminate most large procurement programs in order to accommodate modernization reductions that are likely to be required,” Panetta stated.

The number of civilian personnel would need to be cut by 20 percent over the 10-year period, leading to the smallest civilian workforce since DOD became a department, he said.

Read Panetta’s letter on McCain’s website.

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