Defense cuts underway

Posted at: 02/07/2013 4:11 PM
Updated at: 02/07/2013 4:27 PM
By: Danielle Leigh, NBCNC

There are new warnings about the spending cuts known as sequestration set for March 1.

Outgoing Defense Secretary Leon Panetta called the more than $500 billion in military cuts a "self inflicted wound" that will "damage our readiness" in testimony before Congress Thursday.

Already the military is feeling the impact, and reducing its presence in the Persian Gulf.

For Navy families in Norfolk, Virginia just the threat of sequestration means more time over seas, doing more with less.

Fresh off a recent deployment, sailors staffing an aircraft carrier will be heading back to the gulf.

The U.S. is combating growing tensions in the Middle East, new terrorism threats and an Iranian nuclear program.

Due to the pending cuts the U.S.S. Truman  will stay at home, leaving just one carrier in the gulf.

"This is the beginning of a number of steps that will badly damage our readiness," Secretary Panetta warned.

Panetta told Senators he's trying to soften the blow by saving now, freezing new hires and cutting back on maintenance.

Without a deficit cutting budget deal by March 1st the cuts will get worse.

The sequestration cuts total more than $500 billion over ten years and threaten at least 46,000 jobs.

Panetta told congress to do its job.

"Stop this constant uncertainty where we don't know what the hell we are going to get," he urged Senators.

Sensing a battle, President Obama asked house democrats for support.

"I am prepared, eager and anxious to do a big deal, a big package that ends this governance by crisis," Mr. Obama said.

The president wants fewer cuts and more tax revenue, the same argument he made during the fiscal cliff talks with Republicans.