Panetta renews call for Congress to lay off DOD cuts


August 6th, 2011

Omaha, NE – The U.S. Secretary of Defense visited Offutt Air Force Base in Bellevue Friday. Leon Panetta renewed his call for Congress to lay off spending cuts to the DOD, making a strong case for a robust department of defense, and reassuring the troops he “has their back” in Washington.

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The Defense Secretary addressed a room full of servicemen and women at Offutt, after receiving briefings from U.S. Strategic Command, headquartered at the base. It was Panetta’s first visit to Stratcom, which is charged with deterring nuclear attacks and defending the nation in space, and cyberspace. Panetta, who has a long history of public service, thanked the troops for theirs.

“Our democracy cannot survive unless there are people that commit themselves to public service,” Panetta said. “It is the nature of our country that in order for us to have the strongest country in the world, we’ve got to give back to this community, we’ve got to give back to this country. That’s why we are strong.”

Leon Panetta was sworn in as the nation's 23rd Secretary of Defense on July 1, 2011. (Photo courtesy Wikimedia)

Panetta is just over a month on the job. He took over the post from Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who retired earlier this year. He came to the DOD from the CIA, which he was appointed to by President Barack Obama and led during the successful U.S. raid on Osama Bin Laden. The son of Italian immigrants, Panetta has a long political career as a Congressman from California. But he said his most challenging task has been a new one: writing condolence letters to the families of fallen troops.

“So one of the most important things to me is to make sure that you are always supported,” he said. “And that we ensure that you know that we’re always watching your back as you go out there and put your lives on the line.”

And having their back, Panetta suggested, includes protecting them from more spending cuts in Washington. Panetta repeated a call he made Thursday during his first press conference on the job.

He said the defense department is willing to pay its fair share to help reduce the nation’s deficit, and will be able to absorb the $400 billion in cuts already approved in this week’s debt ceiling deal. But that deal includes a trigger that would slash spending later if a committee can’t agree on further deficit reductions. And Panetta said those cuts would be “disastrous” and would “seriously weaken defense.”

“The last thing we want to do is hollow our force,” he said. “The last thing we need to do is to weaken the United States of America, at a very important time in our history. People are questioning the political leadership; people are questioning the economic situation. The last thing people should question is the ability of the United States to defend itself.”

Panetta said America faces a dangerous and difficult time, and there are numerous threats that require a robust defense department; including global terrorism, engagement in two wars, rogue nations, and a new threat: cyber attacks.

“We could face a cyber attack that could be the equivalent of Pearl Harbor,” he said. “Cyber these days, or someone using cyber, can take down our power grid system, take down our financial systems in this country, take down our government systems, take down our banking systems. They could virtually paralyze this country. We have to be prepared to deal with that.”

Panetta’s strong words against more defense cuts have already drawn criticism in Washington, particularly as he suggested the government look to curb entitlement spending before defense. The Boston Globe reports Congressman Barney Frank asked the President on Friday to reject Panetta’s position and urged him to “make clear” that he didn’t “speak for the administration.”

But Panetta assured the room, which included Nebraska Senators Ben Nelson and Mike Johanns, along with Congressman Lee Terry, that as the troops go out to fight the wars they have to fight, he will fight the war in Washington “to make sure that we protect your back.”

“You have my guarantee I will do that,” he said.

25 Responses

  1. James O'Neill says:

    Leon Panetta said, “We could face a cyber attack that could be the equivalent of Pearl Harbor,” he said. “Cyber these days, or someone using cyber, can take down our power grid system, take down our financial systems in this country, take down our government systems, take down our banking systems. They could virtually paralyze this country. We have to be prepared to deal with that.”

    I want to know exactly how eleven (11) aircraft carrier groups are going to help defend us from these threats. I know where a big cut could be made in military spending. Reduce oour aircraft groups to three or four. They are World War II technology that can be taken out with a missle and a nuke so they are only good against small countries and perhaps terrorist.

  2. BruceR says:

    Panetta is right. We must spare no expense, dig every last penny from the couch, cut education and jobs leaving the military as the only option for our children. It’s our mission for God: to make the whole world safe and tax free for multinational corporations.

  3. AnotherTom says:

    Yep, lay off defense, lay off the rich, and screw the middle class and poor. Of course there is no waist in the DOD. They need all the money they can get so America can continue starting wars, killing people and making defense contractors rich (ala Haliburton).

    The rest of America (which of course excludes the rich) should shut up and pay up

  4. John says:

    The Pensioner’s Lament:

    We’re dodgin’ the bullets of price increase

    while waitin’ for the rich man’s sugar candy

    tax cut, tax break and tax loophole treats

    to be replaced by the bullet proof vests of

    Cost of Living increase

    when they arrive on the supply ships

    of tax increase.

  5. Aaron Fleszar says:

    This is my favorite middle of nowhere radio news site with a web page for stories such as this that Google news is linking to.

    A military coup d’etat began in 2008 with the introduction of Sarah Palin as John McCain’s running mate.

    Obama is not the president, he’s the acting president. He disappeared for 2 weeks after his election win only to reappear looking exhausted sitting next to John McCain, with a bad poker face, for a press photo shoot. Obama is now a Pentagon puppet. Who did you think writes his teleprompter?

    This is the real story that the media is not and cannot report on. Here’s what Obama, Osama, Biden, Bin Laden, the FBI’s Most Wanted Terrorists, and Sarah Palin had to do with the last election and the military’s overthrow of our government. Search ElectNoMoreSpys.blogspot

  6. JohnDave says:

    Obonzo, the Traitor/Liar/Poser/Ruiner/Socialist-in-Chief wants
    to cut American defense to hasten its downfall. Congress
    should not allow it, but should impeach him asap.

  7. CitizenUSA-notChina says:

    Pinetta quickly proving to be the wrong man for the job and another poor selection by Obama.

    We can’t have a military that is larger than the militaries of the rest of the world combined IF we don’t want to pay for it. The Military and our totally unwise wars has left this nation broke….financial and morally.

    The REAL total for annual military spending by the US is $ 1.5 trillion per year…..Pinetta’s DoD (Pentagon) budget of $ 700 M is not the total. The US REAL total per year should be $ 300 B for the Pentagon…Max.

    Pineatta either needs to change his tune OR he needs to be replaced.

  8. connolly says:

    Brilliant !

    We are going broke BUT… lets keep spending a billion a week for our undeclared wars in Afghanistan, Libya & Iraq. Of course, we can’t stop buying new military hardware ‘just-in-case’ we decide to go somewhere else. Then there is all the foreign military aid to help our ‘friends’ build their military.

    Panetta was part of one of the previous failed administrations. Should we listen to him tell us NOT to touch his pocketbook with his verbal SCARE tactics???

  9. greg says:

    its all a scam, the best defense is to stop dominating the world all the time. -look at us -who are we? -only a nation of greed and unreal economics

  10. clern fimmel says:

    The empire and it’s endless war have bankrupted the country, not entitlement programs?

  11. nemo says:

    F@ck Panetta, congress is accountable to the american public not him. We are broke and in an unrecoverable debt because of Bush and Obama’s wars.

  12. Raymond Jones says:

    I believe there’s quite a bit of waste that can be eliminated from defense. On the other hand, its the Secretary of Defense’s job to defend the mandate of his institution. Pannetta’s comments leave me feeling pretty neutral.

  13. Altec Lansing says:

    So Panetta thinks that the Defense Department (used to be more accurately called the War Department) budget should be immune from any cuts, and that reductions should come instead from Social Security and Medicare. Give me a break! Is Panetta a Republican, a Tea Party advocate, a Reagan-era prosthelytizer, or just a complete knucklehead? Does he realize that the United States, by the Pentagon’s own reckoning, operates about 5,000 military bases at home and overseas? That there are about 400 military bases in Afghanistan alone (which, by the way, don’t show up on the Pentagon’s list)? That the United States spends far more on its military than all other countries of the world combined? By all means, let’s not cut any of that! Heaven forbid! Personally, I think that Panetta should apologize, shut up, and suck it up. A very big part of the problem is the bloated Defense budget and the cost of our two protracted wars of choice. But Dwight warned us about this stuff a long time ago, didn’t he?

  14. Michaels says:

    I totally agree with the Panetta. It is much more important for people to starve than us to have the ability to drop bombs on little brown people.

    Besides, with all the unemployment, they need to hire more people to suppress an uprising of the people at the foolish spending habits of the government.

    We are in a war with an ISM people…make no mistake you can easily be put in the bucket with that ISM. There is no skin color associated with it, no nationality, no religion…just an obscure categorization of anything considered against the status-quo of the folks in power.

  15. Michaels says:

    And BTW, if you look at the defense spending…a lot of it is on riot control gear…what does that? hmmmm.. Use your brains and don’t blindly follow the fodder that the mass media feeds you.

  16. Michaels says:

    One last thing, it isn’t a corporate military. Big corporations pump billions of dollars into the political machine each year (including big pharma). I’m sure this has no influence whatsoever on our policy to occupy a country with massive supplies of Poppies.

    Just a thought.

    Oh yeah, and the oil…but these things are so obvious…who could overlook and ignore all of this.

  17. Guy Chaifetz says:

    After losing 31 American soldiers yesterday in a useless war in a useless country, how can we continue to throw away our priceless treasure, our young men and women and our hard earned dollars. To have us believe that fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan is making it safer for Americans is an outright lie. Forget the cold war mentality and forget about the war on terror. That’s what we have the CIA and the NSA and the FBI for. Bring ALL the troops home, cut the military budget for unnecessary military hardware and spend our money on defense not offense. We are not the world’s policemen.

  18. Pierre Anonymot says:

    Our disgrace of a POPUP President (for whom I voted 1 time, but nevermore) installs an incompetent General to run the CIA and poor old Leon to run the Army.

    At a critical moment in the history of our species, our culture (such as it is) and our nation, the Peter Principle is proven:

    The Peter Principle states that “in a hierarchy every employee tends to rise to his level of incompetence”, meaning that employees tend to be promoted until they reach a position at which they cannot work competently.

    Our POPUP, The Heads of Homeland, the CIA, the Army, and with but a couple of exceptions, the members of our Congress will soon complete the destruction of our once-promising country. Once-promising:

    back when POPUP ran a social program back in South Chicago near Al Capone’s old fief
    when our Generals fought wars after we were attacked, not wars of self-promotion
    when Janet was still a pre-Hillary playgirl in South Beach
    when Leon was a member of the Nixon Team promoting civil rights
    before Bush, Cheney, & other hard-core right-wingers were cloned for this administration
    when election to Congress was to promote a vision other than one’s fortune and fame

  19. Kim says:

    There is a difference between military spending and defense spending. Yes, we should be able to defend ourselves. But that’s not what a lot of “defense” spending is used for these days.

  20. Matthew Hall says:

    Oh, boo hoo. Cry me a river Panetta.

  21. notbob says:

    Shocking that the secretary of defense would argue for maintaining his budget – how very bureaucratic of him! The DoD is a bloated soviet style department where there is no freedom, no free market competition and simple platitudes to justify their existence and funding levels. The DoD is a major component of the downfall of our nation.

  22. rod says:

    The problem Pannetta advances is they always purposefully propose DOD cuts in the worst places to “prove” we can’t do this. South Korea has 54 times the GDP of North Korea, yet we’ve had 50,000 troops and bases there since the 50’s. Italy, Germany, Japan all have multiple, huge, American bases. All of those countries pay 2-3% of their annual GPD on their own defense … then take a long vacation since they have The Pentagon (me and you) to rely on. The military industrial complex wants us in many of these places till the end of time if possible even though, in the end, it’s actually worse for the US Taxpayer, the countries themselves, the future strength of our allies, and our country’s budget.

  23. mtazman says:

    The era of US Global Policeman must end. It has hollowed out America itself.

  24. DUSTY says:

    let’s get in more wars and screw the seniors in the USA.
    sounds like a good plan to me!

  25. hawkny says:

    What Mr. Panetta calls “robust” the rest of us call “bloated”. There is no need to have 1,000 overseas military installations. There is no justification for 11 nucler powered aircraft carrier groups (when the rest of the world has two) and their is no need to continue continue fighting wars, for our allies, for free…..

    This folly has to end…and end now!!

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