Panetta To Outline Pentagon Cuts

Tuesday, January 3, 2012 - 3:38pm

Secretary of Defense will share strategy for cutting hundreds of billions from budget.

The White House and Pentagon have some tough spending choices to make for the next decade.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta is drawing up a plan that will force the military to quite literally change the way it fights in the future, and even that may not be enough.

Panetta is putting the final touches on a Pentagon budget that will slash more than $450 billion in spending over the next decade.

The White House says it's a plan designed to balance national security with harsh economic realities.

"The important part of this process is that strategy come first and reductions are driven by the strategy - they're not across the board and they're not random," said White House Press Secretary Jay Carney.

With the mission in Iraq now finished the Pentagon can no longer afford to fight two simultaneous wars and is retooling to face 21st century threats from unconventional enemies.

Still, military experts worry about another bottom line: Readiness.

"Are you trying to save dollars at the expense of protecting interests? Or are you trying
to protect interests while saving dollars? You can't do both," says Paul Hughes, a retired Army colonel and member of the United States Institute of Peace.

The biggest fear is what happens if Congress deadlocks on how to slash spending and the Pentagon has to find an additional $550 billion in cuts.

Secretary Panetta has told Congress that could be disastrous.

Republicans have been working to take the bigger defense cuts off the table, but President Obama says he's not going to allow any easy outs.

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