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Republicans have asked the Obama administration to present a new strategy for what specific missions it wants the military to retain or relinquish, under the pressure of less spending. The Pentagon now spends about $530 billion annually, not counting wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“The point is, it’s a terrible idea to cut spending when we don’t know if we are making the necessary investment in defense to begin with,” Mr. Kasper said.

Rep. Howard P. “Buck” McKeon, California Republican and chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, said this week the supercommittee is setting up Republicans for votes to either raise taxes or slash defense.

“Folks, it is impossible to pay our entitlement tab with the Pentagon’s credit card,” Mr. McKeon said.

Democrats are more willing to take on the Pentagon. Rep. Barney Frank, Massachusetts Democrat, has proposed $1 trillion in cuts over 10 years.

Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta has warned of a “hollow force” if automatic, across-the-board cuts bombard the Pentagon.

In a related matter, the Aerospace Industries Association and top executives from companies such as Boeing and Pratt & Whitney said reductions beyond the 10-year, $350 billion cut in this summer’s debt accord would have a devastating impact on the defense industry, the Associated Press reported.