Leon Panetta, the U.S. Defense Secretary ordered the different military services to get prepared for Defense Department cuts that will force the military to eliminate $52 billion of its fiscal budget for 2013 in six months.
Leaders of the Defense Department authorized the measures as freezes in civilian hiring, delays in awarding contracts as well as furloughs of as long as 30 days. The Pentagon, said Panetta, would have little or no time if Congress waited until March 1, the updated deadline that Congress set for the cuts.
Panetta used his statement with Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey on Thursday. They told Congress that the military would be unprepared in a year’s time to protect the U.S. if they had to sustain the potential sweeping budget cuts.
Dempsey said the military’s readiness will start to erode and within just months, the military will be less prepared and in a year will be unprepared. Panetta expressed how three deadlines are converging in March and threaten to “hollow out” the U.S. military.
He said no one knows exactly what will happen, but if it were left unresolved by the Congress, it would seriously affect the readiness of the U.S. military.
Members of Congress, who said in 2011 they did not think the cuts would take place, have now changed their opinions. The cuts would eliminate $500 billion from Defense spending over the next 10 years, which includes $18 billion from maintenance costs and military operations during fiscal 2013.
The original deadline for these cuts was on January 2, but Congress pushed them back to March only minutes prior to them taking place.