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Pentagon Claims Defense Cuts Would Increase Unemployment

DoD photo: Air Force Master Sgt. Ken Hammond

Threatened cuts to defense approaching $1 trillion over the next 10 years could add 1 percent to the nation’s unemployment rate, a Defense Department official said Thursday.

As part of the debt ceiling agreement reached in August, at least $350 billion is to be cut from the security budget over the next 10 years. The unemployment rate currently sits at 9.1 percent.

If Congress does not enact deficit reductions by Nov. 24, another $500 billion will automatically be cut from defense spending.

“We would be looking at, in all likelihood, the smallest Army and Marine Corps in decades, the smallest tactical Air Force since [that branch of the service] was established, and the smallest Navy in nearly 100 years,” said George Little, the Pentagon press secretary.

Little made the remarks during a return flight from talks with Australia in San Francisco. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. participated in the meetings.

Panetta has previously said any cuts beyond the $350 billion amount already enacted would be “dangerous” to national security.

Previous defense budget coverage:

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