Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta issued a memo to his workforce stating that he doesn't expect operations to change on or just after Jan. 2, when spending cuts are expected to go into effect unless Congress prevents them. "Sequestration was never intended to be implemented, and there is no reason why both sides should not be able to come together and prevent this scenario," Panetta's memo states.
Pentagon budget planners are not sketching scenarios for dealing with sweeping sequestration cuts because they have received no guidance on possible cuts from the Office of Management and Budget, they say. While the Department of Defense waits for the White House and Congress to hammer out a deal, industry lobbyists are keeping up the pressure. "We urge negotiators to focus on a balanced approach that considers all reasonable solutions and ultimately produces a plan that also includes adequate revenue and entitlement reform," said Marion Blakey, president and CEO of the Aerospace Industries Association.
The Pentagon will be targeted for budget cuts as Congress negotiates ways to reduce the federal deficit, many lawmakers say. Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin, D-Mich., has said the military budget could be trimmed by $10 billion a year as part of a deal to avoid sequestration.
The Defense Department may furlough civilian workers to help pay for Afghanistan operations but protect major weapons programs and try to shift funds to high-priority programs if sequestration goes through, Pentagon Comptroller Robert Hale says. The comments are some of the first that reveal how the Pentagon may handle defense cuts if they take place.