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Pentagon chief warns of "excessive" defense budget cuts

(Xinhua)

08:34, August 17, 2011

WASHINGTON, Aug. 16 (Xinhua) -- U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta warned Tuesday that "excessive" defense budget cuts would have "devastating" effects on national security.

In a joint appearance at the National Defense University with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Panetta said the defense budget should be one source of potential savings, but everything should be on the table for federal deficit cuts, including entitlement reform and raising revenues.

There are two-thirds of the federal budget that have not been touched yet, he added.

The recent debt-ceiling deal between Democrats and Republicans calls for 350 billion U.S. dollars of baseline defense cuts in 10 years, which Panetta said the military is prepared to implement.

But the deal also included a sequestration mechanism which could cut defense budgets by additional 500 billion dollars in a decade if a bipartisan penal fails to provide a proposal of further spending cuts or Congress fails to approve that proposal.

Panetta has been in recent weeks lobbying lawmakers to avoid "excessive" defense cuts. In a message to all Defense Department personnel, the secretary said he will do everything he can "to ensure that further reductions in defense spending are not pursued in a hasty, ill-conceived way that would undermine the military's ability."

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