The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

State and Nation

January 10, 2013

Pentagon moving to freeze hiring, delay contracts

— WASHINGTON (AP) — 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.

But Panetta said he has asked defense leaders to ensure that any initial moves they make now should be reversible if at all possible, and they must minimize harmful effects on military readiness.

"The simple fact is that this fiscal uncertainty has become a serious threat to our national security," Panetta said during a Pentagon press conference. "We really have no choice but to prepare for the worst."

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.

In order to protect the troops still fighting in Afghanistan, Dempsey said the effect on the rest of the force would be devastating.

Text Only
State and Nation
Photos


Poll

Do you believe America will ever make another manned flight to the moon or another planet?

Yes
No
     View Results
Facebook
AP Video
Judge Ponders Overturning Colo. Gay Marriage Ban Airlines Halt Travel to Israel Amid Violence NYPD Chief Calls for 'use of Force' Retraining VA Nominee McDonald Goes Before Congress Bush: Don't Worry, Sugarland Isn't Breaking Up US Official: Most Migrant Children to Be Removed Police Probing Brooklyn Bridge Flag Switch CDC Head Concerned About a Post-antibiotic Era Raw: First Lady Says `Drink Up' More Water Courts Conflicted Over Healthcare Law Holder Urges Bipartisanship on Immigration Raw: Truck, Train Crash Leads to Fireball US Airlines Cancel Israel Flights Obama Signs Workforce Training Law Crash Victims' Remains Reach Ukraine-held City Diplomatic Push Intensifies to End War in Gaza Cat Fans Lap Up Feline Film Festival Michigan Plant's Goal: Flower and Die Veteran Creates Job During High Unemployment
Twitter Updates
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Stocks
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
Business Marquee