Panetta expects half of defense cuts to come from weapons programs

During a classified briefing on Tuesday, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said he expects about half of the $450 billion that the Pentagon must slash from its budget over the next 10 years to come from weapons programs, House Armed Services Chairman Buck McKeon, R-Calif., told reporters, according to Reuters.

Panetta expects the remaining funds to come from efficiencies, a reduction in troops, and personnel costs like health care, McKeon added.

Panetta, along with Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, and Deputy Secretary of State Bill Burns, briefed senators and House members. Panetta said last week during a trip to South Korea that his department will release a five-year budget to Congress in February with about $250 billion in cuts.

Panetta on Tuesday also reiterated his warnings against a possible additional $500 billion in across-the-board reductions that would go into effect if the super committee fails to agree on a plan to reduce the deficit by $1.2 trillion. The Pentagon considers this so-called "sequestration" mechanism the worst-case scenario. Panetta testified to the committee last month that he "absolutely" believes DoD is shouldering enough of the burden to reduce the deficit, and believes the department should not be asked to make further cuts.

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