WASHINGTON, Nov 21 (Reuters) - U.S. Defense Secretary Leon said on Monday automatic spending cuts that could result in a special congressional committee’s failure to reach a deficit reduction agreement could “tear a seam” in U.S. defense.
The Pentagon was already working on a plan to cut $489 billion from its budget over the next decade.
The so-called super committee’s failure to agree on $1.2 trillion in deficit-cutting measures triggers up to $600 billion in additional defense cuts over ten years beginning in 2013.
“If Congress fails to act over the next year, the Department of Defense will face devastating, automatic, across-the-board cuts that will tear a seam in the nation’s defense,” Panetta said in a statement.
“The half-trillion in additional cuts demanded by sequester would lead to a hollow force incapable of sustaining the missions it is assigned.”
The Pentagon’s ability to provide benefits and support for for U.S. troops and their families also would be jeopardized if the automatic cuts are allowed to go into effect.
“Our troops deserve better, and our nation demands better,” Panetta said.