panetta

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta on Thursday said the Pentagon would respond to a “perfect storm of fiscal uncertainty” by making plans for furloughs and massive cuts at the Pentagon.

The beginning of budget cuts from sequestration, the looming debate on Capitol Hill over the debt ceiling and a critical vote on the defense appropriations bill for fiscal 2013 are all set to come crashing down on DOD next month, Panetta warned.

“We have no idea what the hell is going to happen,” he said.

The secretary and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey said they have ordered service leaders and combat commanders to begin taking “precautionary” cost-cutting measures in anticipation of sequestration.

The measures include unpaid furloughs to the department’s civilian workforce and near-term reductions to critical DOD accounts that fund operations, training and maintenance of weapons and equipment.