Pentagon spokesman: $500 billion cut would ‘hollow out’ military force

Updated

The Department of Defense revealed the lengths it would go to avoid a $500 billion budget cut, by threatening mass layoffs of military employees—timed just before the November elections—if Congress does not act.

Pentagon Press Secretary George Little, while on msnbc’s Jansing & Co, emphasized that the Defense Department was willing to cut its “fair share” to help wrangle in the nation’s deficit, but that the additional $500 billion reduction would “seriously risk undermining” national security efforts.

“It would hollow out our force, it would harm our national security and our military, and it would break faith with the troops,” Little told msnbc’s Chris Jansing. “That is something we simply cannot afford as a country.”

Top Pentagon officials this week have made their rounds in applying pressure on Congress to halt the cuts. Gen. Raymond Odierno, U.S. Army chief of staff, on Morning Joe Thursday emphasized that the sequestration tacks on to the already existing $487 billion cuts to defense spending over the next ten years.

The latest round of defense cuts are a result of a budget deal between Congress and President Obama last year that was designed to give lawmakers an incentive to reach a bipartisan consensus to tackle the nation’s deficit. But without a compromise, across-the-board budget cuts to spending programs that are sacred cows for both parties will automatically kick in the start of next year.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, before the Senate Appropriations Committee on Tuesday, said the budget cuts were designed to be a “meat ax” and a “disaster.”

Little built on the defense secretary’s words on Thursday, telling Jansing, “It’s a meat ax attached to a chain saw.”

Leon Panetta and Pentagon

Pentagon spokesman: $500 billion cut would 'hollow out' military force

Updated