The Pentagon will begin to take “prudent measures” in the coming weeks to prepare for a possible perfect storm of budget cuts, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said during a press briefing Thursday.
Those precautions include a civilian hiring freeze, delaying some contract awards and trimming non-essential facilities maintenance, he said. In addition, Defense Department components must start more detailed planning for the across-the-board budget cuts that are now scheduled to hit March 1 if Congress does not reach a deal on spending reductions.
The more specific sequestration strategies should include plans to implement unpaid furloughs of civilian workers, Panetta added. “I want to be clear: It’s precautionary,” he said. “But I have an obligation to – to let Congress know that we may have to do that, and I very much hope that we will not have to furlough anyone.”