- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Pentagon’s No. 2 official said Wednesday that automatic spending cuts set to being in January would create “absurdities” and devastate the defense industries that support the troops.

“Sequester would have devastating effects on our readiness and our workforce, and disrupt thousands of contracts and programs,” Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said at the American Enterprise Institute.

The automatic spending cuts, known as sequestration, would require an additional $600 billion reduction in defense spending over the next 10 years if Congress does not reach a deal on the budget.

“Our military and civilian program managers would face absurdities that result from the arbitrariness with which sequestration would take effect,” Mr. Carter said. “We remind you that the quality of the weapons systems produced by our defense industry is second only to the quality of our people in uniform and what makes our military the greatest in the world.”

“I certainly share industry’s concern about sequestration. This is not the way to do defense and budgeting,” he said.

Mr. Carter said the Pentagon is not planning contingencies for the additional cuts.

“Planning has a certain rational tone to it. But Congress, in writing the Budget Control Act, did not design sequester to be rational,” he said.

“Sequester was supposed to be … a trigger so irrational that the prospect of it would … drive the leadership to do what was needed, which was to put together an overall budget package for the nation’s finances that could win wide support.”

“Both the size and the nature of sequester would defy the strategy for the post-war force in the future that we so carefully put together under the president’s guidance a few short months ago,” he said.

• Kristina Wong can be reached at kwong@washingtontimes.com.

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