Pentagon Planners Ordered to Keep Potential Budget Cuts from Congress

May 20, 2012

For Pentagon planners, automatic spending cuts slated to begin in January have become the $600 billion contingency they can't plan for.

Military planners are under strict orders not to devise scenarios for meeting the demands of "sequestration," as the automatic, across-the-board spending reductions are called. Such paperwork, if leaked, would tell Congress there might be a way to deal with such drastic cuts.

"The department is not currently planning for sequestration," Air Force Lt. Col. Melinda Morgan, a Pentagon spokeswoman, told The Washington Times. The White House budget office "has not directed agencies, including [the Defense Department], to initiate any plans for sequestration."

Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta, who has warned of a "hollow" force if the automatic cuts occur, has said there is no alternative long-range budget. The only spending plan being considered is his five-year budget that begins the Budget Control Act's $487 billion in defense cuts over the next 10 years. Sequestration would slash an additional $600 billion from the Pentagon budget. 

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