WASHINGTON (1/22/13) – Preparations under way for the looming threat of major across-the-board Pentagon spending cuts are “a drag on the department,” Pentagon Press Secretary George Little said today.
Congress recently passed legislation delaying the “sequestration” spending cuts until March 1, but $500 billion in defense spending over 10 years still is at stake if Congress fails to agree on an alternative.
““We’re investing a great number of manhours, resources and intensive planning for sequestration, which we, of course, hope to avoid,” Little told reporters, and the fiscal ripples at the Pentagon expand far beyond Washington.
“When you have [forward deployed] service members who are asking about appropriations, that’s a signal to me that [it’s] weighing on their minds,” Little said. “When sequestration, … continuing resolutions and appropriations become a discussion point in Kabul, … Vicenza or on Okinawa, that is a sign [that] this debate in Washington is having a negative effect on troop morale.”
Little said the threat of sequestration already has affected morale, time management, planning and even his ability to discuss other matters in his meetings with reporters.
“It’s time to move beyond the ‘fiscal cliff’ and get a deal done,” he said.
As sequestration draws closer, Little noted, his level of awareness has increased with regard to service members’ worries about their families, their benefits and their ability to perform the mission.
“I think it is a justifiable concern on their part, and responsibility to address it rests with Congress,” he said.
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