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Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta addresses audience members during the Association of Defense Communities' annual conference in Monterey, Calif., Aug. 6, 2012. DOD photo by U.S. Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Chad J. McNeeley

Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta addresses audience members during the Association of Defense Communities’ annual conference in Monterey, Calif., Aug. 6, 2012. DOD photo by U.S. Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Chad J. McNeeley

Sequestration would be “a disaster” not only for national defense, but for defense communities, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta said Monday.

Speaking at the Association for Defense Communities conference, Panetta said the prospect of adding $500 billion in sequestration cuts to the $487 billion in planned spending reductions over the next decade would have devastating effects.

“I’ve made clear, and I’ll continue to do so, that if sequestration is allowed to go into effect, it’ll be a disaster for national defense and it would be a disaster, frankly, for defense communities as well,” he said. “And frankly, it’s not only true about the DOD budget, it’s also true relating to the domestic discretionary cuts that will deprive communities of the needed federal support they need in areas like education.”

The secretary said the new defense strategy and the Pentagon’s budget decisions reflect the need to bring the government’s budget under control.

“There is a strategic and fiscal imperative that is driving the department to a smaller, … leaner and more agile force – that’s the reality,” Panetta said. “It would be irresponsible not to reduce the budget and do our role in confronting the fiscal challenges facing this country.”

The secretary noted that though the department and the nation are weathering a period of great challenge, an opportunity for planning emerges.

Under the new strategy, Panetta said, the force will remain agile, quickly deployable, flexible and prepared to deal with crises anywhere in the world. Additionally, he said, vigilance against cyberspace threats is essential. He called the cyber arena the “battlefield for the future,” with the potential to cripple progress for the United States and its allies.

The strategy also must include investment in and protection of DOD’s industrial base, the secretary said.

  • Jim Heald

    Yes, we are talking about a $100  billion annual cut, but the impression that is often given is that somehow this is cumulative (ie, this year we cut from $767 B to $667 B and next year we cut from $667B to $567B and on and on).  In reality, once you cut the $100B, it’s done.  Those programs go away and they don’t return.  You are not cutting $100B of new programs every year.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_FBHJUFM6WFXBAPHBDZ3YPBRPAA JeffS

    Why is the impact to the military (10% cut) the only issue getting air time? Sequestration would be a disaster to public health as well- monitoring and mitigating health issues that kill thousands every year, 36 thousand a year from flu alone, homeland security and airline safety also.  DoD was included in the mix to force an progress on the budget.  If Congress excludes it, they are back to square one again in having to make hard choices.

    • http://fedscoop.com FedScoop

      Approve.