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Panetta Warns Against Further Defense Cuts
244 days ago
(RTTNews) - U.S. Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta has warned that further defense cuts threatened by sequestration would "throw the U.S. defense strategy out the window."
The U.S. defense strategy contains all the elements needed to confront a time of historic change, he said while addressing U.S. troops at the Yakota Air Base in Japan on Monday, adding that he believes "we have a strategy that is very effective ... in a very complex world."
Sequestration is a mechanism to slash government spending, built into the Budget Control Act and set to take effect in January. It would cut an additional $500 billion from the defense budget over the next decade.
"The key, of course, is that we will need to have the strong support of the Congress.. The one thing that I can't have happen is to have the Congress fail to deal with the sequester mechanism they've out in place," he said.
Panetta told a gathering of about 350 service-members and civilian employees that while the nation faced some daunting tasks, America's military had logged great achievements in the 11 years since 9/11. The second decade of the 21st century is a historic time for America, he added.
"We have on one hand achieved a great deal," he said, noting the end of the war in Iraq, the ongoing transition to Afghan-led security in Afghanistan and the killing or capture of many of al-Qaeda's top leaders. He added: "We have, as a result of 10 years of war and the sacrifice of a lot of men and women in uniform, been able to achieve some very important successes."
At the same time, the Pentagon chief said, the nation faced continuing threats around the world and financial challenges at home. The defense strategy that rebalances to the Asia-Pacific -- placing U.S service-members in Japan at a point of great national focus -- was designed to both meet those challenges and help manage the nation's fiscal resources, he added.
"Congress handed me the number of $487 billion to take down the defense budget over the next 10 years," Panetta said. In developing a defense strategy that meets that figure while maintaining an effective 21st-century defense, he added, he and other defense leaders focused on sustaining a highly capable though smaller force, and on protecting service member pay and benefits.
Panetta said the military's mission iss clear: focus on the Asia-Pacific; maintain an effective response capability in the Middle East, and engage around the world to partner with and develop other nations' forces.
He claimed that the United States has the best weapons, ships and planes in the world.
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