Defense Secretary Leon Panetta told an audience at his formal swearing-in ceremony “we do not have a blank check from the American people” in dealing with the challenges.
“I really believe that we do not have to make a choice between fiscal discipline and national security. By setting priorities based on sound strategy, based on good policy, we can focus … those resources we need at those threats of today and tomorrow.”
President Barack Obama and lawmakers on Capitol Hill locked in talks aimed at bringing Washington’s trillion-dollar deficits under control, officials at the Pentagon are bracing for huge cuts in defense spending over the next decade.
On Friday, Obama, who asked the Pentagon earlier this year to come up with $400 billion in spending reductions over the next 12 years, reiterated his willingness to cut defense by “hundreds of billions of dollars” as part of a balanced deal to reduce the deficit.
Panetta, who served as former President Bill Clinton’s budget director, said the Pentagon had to “continue to be accountable to the American people for what we spend, where we spend it and what the results are.”