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Panetta: Service Branches Should Make Budget Cuts ‘as a Team’

Photo: Air Force Tech. Sgt. Jacob N. Bailey

The military service branches should not make budget decisions based on parochialism and instead work together as a team, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said Wednesday.

During remarks at the Association of the U.S. Army’s annual convention, Panetta gave few specifics on how the Pentagon would implement $450 billion in cuts over the next two years.

He is scheduled to testify before the House Armed Services Committee Thursday, where lawmakers are expected to ask for specifics.

Panetta told the audience the service branches should take their cooperative combat efforts from the past decade and work together to find savings, avoiding an inter-service fight for resources.

“Going forward, my expectation is that our military leaders will work with me to do what’s best for the entire force, not just what’s best for their own service,” Panetta said. “We have to weather these budget storms as a team, putting the needs of all before the needs of one. We can’t do anything else. The stakes are too high right now, and if we don’t tackle these challenges together we will not be able to see our way clear to remaining the best military in the world.”

On Tuesday, Panetta told the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars the Pentagon wants to make reductions based on strategy rather than expediency and appealed for lawmakers to support the effort regardless of districts they represent.

“Congress must be a responsible partner … in supporting a strong defense strategy that may not always include their favorite base or their weapons system,” Panetta said.

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