July 11, 2012

DOD working to halt budget sequestration, Little says

by Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

The Defense Department is working to avoid the possibility of budget sequestration, a maneuver which would trigger massive, across the board cuts in defense spending, something Pentagon Press Secretary George Little described July 10 as an “absurd” situation.

“We have daily discussions with the Office of Management and Budget on a range of budget issues, to include the prospect of sequestration,” Little said. “We have not begun planning for sequestration, but we are in regular contact with our OMB colleagues about what needs to happen.

Sequestration is a mechanism built into last year’s Budget Control Act that would trigger across the board cuts in federal spending – including an additional half-trillion-dollar cut in defense – if Congress and the White House cannot agree on a plan to reduce the federal deficit.

“The goal here, of course, is to avoid sequestration, period. That’s what we want and we believe that’s what the American people want,” Little told reporters.

Sequestration would more than double the $487 billion in cuts the department is already making over the next 10 years.

The automatic cuts would require the department to scrap the defense strategy unveiled in January, Pentagon Spokesman Capt. John Kirby told reporters at the same press conference. Instead, Pentagon officials would “have to come up with something completely different. That something, whatever it is, would be based on, essentially, a force at risk of being hollowed,” he said.

“We need to move beyond sequestration,” Little said. “And we believe that members of Congress do want to get beyond it.”

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta continues to look throughout the department for savings, Little said, and stressed that everything is on the table. But Defense officials have continually said that any cuts have to fit in to the overall defense strategy.

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