The Pentagon has authorized its senior managers to freeze civilian hiring, curtail travel and training, dismiss temporary workers, review contracts and cancel some weapons maintenance because of budget uncertainty.
“We have no idea what the hell’s going to happen,” Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said yesterday at the Pentagon, in explaining the need to begin cost-cutting measures. “All told, this uncertainty, if left unresolved by the Congress, will seriously harm our military readiness.”
Steps outlined in a memo yesterday by Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton Carter mark the first concrete actions the Pentagon is taking in response to automatic cuts, known as sequestration, that would require slicing about $45 billion from the defense budget by Sept. 30 if Congress and President Barack Obama fail to agree on an alternative deficit-reduction plan by March.
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