WASHINGTON - US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta told lawmakers on Thursday the Pentagon - a department that prides itself on being ready for everything from war to natural disaster - had no plan at all for dealing with the real threat of another $50 billion in budget cuts next year.
Panetta called the second round of cuts due to go into effect next year "crazy" and said it was casting a pall over defense industries. But he indicated the Pentagon had not designed its new military strategy or its 2013 budget to reflect the looming reduction, part of a process known as sequestration.
"Look, we're not paying attention to sequestration. I don't think it's going to happen," Panetta told a panel of the House of Representatives during a hearing on the Pentagon's proposed 2013 spending plan.
"I don't think that Congress is going to allow it to happen. But at the same time, the threat that it may happen is something that's having an impact," he said, acknowledging it was casting a "huge shadow" over the military.