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Pentagon welcomes fiscal deal, warns against cuts
by Staff Writers
Washington (AFP) Jan 2, 2013

BAE withdraws from tender
Edinburgh Parks, Australia (UPI) Jan 2, 2012 - BAE Systems Australia has dropped out of a tender process with the Australian military after two employees breached tender protocols.

The breach of Australian Defense Department protocols occurred in the initial tender process for Joint Project 2072 Phase 2B of the army's battlespace communications network.

"We felt that we had developed a strong, locally based solution to meet Army's battlespace communications needs," said BAE Systems Australia Chief Executive David Allott. "However, how we behave is just as important as how we operate and we are determined to act responsibly whenever and wherever any inappropriate behavior is detected.

"While this is the first time that we have identified an issue of this nature, we view this breach extremely seriously. We have commenced a review of our business proposal development processes to ensure that it does not occur again."

The nature of the breach of protocols wasn't detailed but the company said two employees have been dismissed.

US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta on Wednesday welcomed a deal to avert automatic budget cuts that would have slashed military spending and caused "damaging" consequences.

But the Pentagon chief urged more decisive action from Congress to remove the threat of mandatory cuts to defense spending that could be triggered in two months if lawmakers fail to break a stalemate over how to reduce the federal budget deficit.

"Had Congress not acted, the Department of Defense -- along with other federal agencies -- would have been forced to begin taking dramatic steps that would have severely impacted our civilian personnel and disrupted our mission," Panetta said in a statement.

He said he had warned for more than a year of the potentially disastrous impact if the automatic budget cuts, or sequestration, had gone ahead.

"Over the past few weeks, as we were forced to begin preparing to implement this law, my concerns about its damaging effects have only grown," he said.

Until the last-minute agreement was approved on Tuesday, Panetta said he was poised to notify the Pentagon's 800,000 civilian employees of possible rolling furloughs to absorb the budget cuts.

"Congress has prevented the worst possible outcome by delaying sequestration for two months. Unfortunately, the cloud of sequestration remains.

"The responsibility now is to eliminate it as a threat by enacting balanced deficit reduction," he said.

The Defense Department was already "doing its part" by cutting back planned spending by $487 billion over the next ten years but the "specter" of automatic cuts of another $500 billion over the next decade had made it difficult to make budget plans, he said.

"We need to have stability in our future budgets."

Congress voted overnight on a stop-gap agreement that avoided across-the-board tax hikes and automatic spending cuts that had threatened to drive America back into recession.

The agreement, a political victory for President Barack Obama's White House, raised taxes on the very rich and delayed the threat of $109 billion in automatic spending cuts for two months.

If the mandatory cuts were to enter into force, the Pentagon would be forced to scale back training for troops, slash spending for spy agencies, cancel purchases of some weapons and issue furloughs to large numbers of its vast civilian workforce, officials said.

The defense cuts amount to at least $52.3 billion for 2013 -- or about 10 percent across all the armed services -- under mandatory budget reductions, which were designed to be so drastic that Congress would reach a compromise to avoid heading over the "fiscal cliff."

If the automatic cuts go into effect in two months' time, the impact would be even more dramatic as a larger portion of the defense budget for fiscal year 2013 would be spent by then, officials said.

Some skeptics say the Pentagon and the defense industry have overstated the impact of the mandatory budget cuts, and that America's massive military spending needs to be trimmed back.


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US military braces for sweeping budget cuts
Washington (AFP) Jan 01, 2013
The Pentagon is bracing for deep spending cuts that will affect every facet of the US military if lawmakers fail to agree a deal to avert dramatic budget reductions, officials said Monday. The Defense Department will be forced to scale back training for troops, reduce spending for spy agencies, cancel purchases of some weapons and issue furlough notices to hundreds of thousands of civilian w ... read more

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