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Defense Department Preparing for Sequester, and More

  

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  1. 1. Should Defense spending be cut even more?

    • Yes. Absolutely! Bring the boys back home!
    • No. America must dominate the world. Spend more, not less!
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Pentagon moving to freeze hiring, delay contracts

WASHINGTON — The Pentagon will begin taking steps to freeze civilian hiring, delay some contract awards and curtail some maintenance to prepare for drastic budget cuts if Congress can't reach an agreement on a final spending plan, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said Thursday.

Speaking to reporters, Panetta said that department officials must also develop detailed plans to implement unpaid furloughs for civilian personnel. The furloughs would kick in if the automatic cuts are triggered.

The Pentagon is facing a spending reduction of nearly $500 billion over a decade. An additional $110 billion in automatic spending cuts to military and domestic programs will take effect in early March if no agreement is reached.

At the same time, Panetta and Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, noted that Congress has not passed the 2013 defense department budget proposed by the Pentagon last year, and has instead just approved spending equal to the 2012 fiscal year levels. As a result, Panetta said if Congress fails to pass a new budget or avoid the automatic cuts the Pentagon will have to find an almost immediate $40 billion in savings.

And Dempsey said overall the department would have to absorb as much as $52 billion in cuts to planned spending by the end of the fiscal year on Sept. 30.

"Operations, maintenance and training will be gutted. We'll ground aircraft, return ships to port, and sharply curtail training across the force," Dempsey said. "We'll be unable to reset the force following a decade of war. Our readiness will begin to erode. Within months, we'll be less prepared. Within a year, we'll be unprepared."

He stressed, however, that he will not shortchange troops in combat or wounded warriors and their families.

Panetta's guidance was laid out in a four-page memo to department heads that outlined the "near-term actions" they should take including potentially firing any temporary hires, informing some contract employees that they will not be renewed, curtail travel, training, conferences, and spending on supplies, and cut money from base operations.

He said that by Feb. 15, officials must cancel ship, aviation and depot maintenance for the third and fourth quarters.

http://xfinity.comcast.net/articles/news-politics/20130110/US.Panetta/

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Air Force memo outlines sweeping budget cuts

WASHINGTON — Air Force leaders will cut flying hours by nearly 20 percent and prepare for a possible end to all noncombat or noncritical flights from late July through September if Congress can't agree on a budget and billions of dollars in automatic cuts are triggered.

In an Air Force internal memo obtained by The Associated Press, Air Force Secretary Michael Donley laid out broad but grim steps the service will be taking in coming days and weeks to enforce a civilian hiring freeze, cancel air show appearances and flyovers, and slash base improvements and repairs by about 50 percent.

Beyond those immediate actions, Donley and Gen. Mark Welsh, the Air Force chief of staff, said in the memo that the service will make plans to chop aircraft and depot maintenance by about 17 percent and initiate widespread civilian furloughs if there is no resolution to the budget issue by March. The cut in flights would reduce flying hours by more than 200,000, the memo said.

Officials said that civilian pay is about 40 percent of the Air Force's operations and maintenance budget. Panetta has made it clear that if there is no budget agreement, the civilian workforce will face sweeping cuts and unpaid furloughs.

There are about 800,000 civilians across the Defense Department, and nearly 1.4 million in the active-duty military. The Air Force numbers about 330,000 active-duty service members and about 143,000 fulltime civilians.

http://xfinity.comcast.net/articles/news-politics/20130111/US.Air.Force.Budget.Cuts/

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Obama won't support building 'Death Star'

WASHINGTON — A "Death Star" won't be a part of the U.S. military's arsenal any time soon.

More than 34,000 people have signed an online petition calling on the Obama administration to build the "Star Wars" inspired super-weapon to spur job growth and bolster national defense.

But in a posting Friday on the White House website, Paul Shawcross, an administration adviser on science and space, says a Death Star would cost too much to build — an estimated $850 quadrillion — at a time the White House is working to reduce the federal budget.

Besides, Shawcross says, the Obama administration "does not support blowing up planets."

http://xfinity.comcast.net/articles/news-general/20130112/US.White.House.Death.Star/

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