Panetta challenges lawmakers over opposition to Pentagon cuts

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey will run a three-day gantlet in Congress starting Tuesday morning as they face Republican critics of President Obama’s new military strategy.

Panetta and Dempsey will testify on the president’s defense budget in back-to-back-to-back hearings, beginning with the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Obama’s budget request, released Monday, cuts absolute defense spending for the first time in a decade and slashes more than 100,000 troops. Those reductions are in line with the president’s strategy revamp, which drops a requirement that the military stand ready to fight two large-scale ground wars at once.
Panetta defended Obama’s proposed cuts in opening remarks on Tuesday and reminded lawmakers that the $487 billion reduction in Pentagon spending the president is implementing is their own handiwork.

“It was this Congress that mandated, on a bipartisan basis, that we reduce the Defense budget, and we need your partnership to do this in a manner that preserves the strongest military in the world,” Panetta said in prepared testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee. “This will be a test of whether reducing the deficit is about talk or action.”

Read More at The Hill By Jeremy Herb, The Hill