Panetta: Armed Services must work together to absorb cuts

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta toughened up his rhetoric Wednesday in a speech to the Association of the U.S. Army in Washington, where he again was on the offensive over cuts to the Pentagon's budget.

"The Department faces the imperative of cutting more than $450 billion over the next 10 years," Panetta said. He had just one word for those who propose "draconian cuts," particularly those the Pentagon might incur if the deficit reduction super committee fails to reach an agreement: "Nuts."

Panetta vowed to avoid excessive military reductions, saying, "it will not happen on my watch."

He spoke of the need to build a flexible force to combat complex threats; the need to support veterans; and the challenge of absorbing steep budget cuts. In order to survive an era of "extraordinary fiscal pressure," Panetta said, the services must combat "parochialism."

Panetta vowed never to "break faith" with service members and their families. "You will get what was promised to you. That is my fight, that is my duty -- to watch your flank, to fight to make sure that you're protected and that you have all the resources you need to do the job."

However, Panetta also admitted that "we must make efforts to control" personnel costs, "or else we will be forced to make deeper cuts in force structure and modernization." He said his approach "will aim to grandfather benefits when I can in order to implement reforms," echoing his comments at a speech at the Wilson Center on Tuesday.

Budget cuts are inevitable, and will shape the military as it moves forward, Panetta said. He called upon the three service branches to work together to absorb the cuts, rather than fight over every last dollar. "We absolutely cannot allow budget pressures to force the services into parochialism and program survival mode," Panetta said. "Going forward, my expectation is that our military leaders will do what's best for the entire force, not just what's best for their own service."

Panetta will testify before the House Armed Services Committee on Thursday, addressing the future of national defense 10 years after the Sept. 11 attacks.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by G Suite

    Cross-Agency Teamwork, Anytime and Anywhere

    Dan McCrae, director of IT service delivery division, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

  • Data-Centric Security vs. Database-Level Security

    Database-level encryption had its origins in the 1990s and early 2000s in response to very basic risks which largely revolved around the theft of servers, backup tapes and other physical-layer assets. As noted in Verizon’s 2014, Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR)1, threats today are far more advanced and dangerous.

  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.