One If By Land, Two If By Sequestration: The Budget Cuts Are Coming! The Budget Cuts Are Coming!

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The Pentagon’s No. 2 official has issued marching orders telling the U.S. military how to deal with its most intractable foe: looming budget cuts.

Deputy Defense Secretary Ash Carter told the military services in Thursday’s memo that they’ll be free to freeze civilian hiring, end temporary hires, and scale back funds used to keep lawns mowed and barracks painted on military posts. Beyond that, they’ll be able to hack away at travel, training and administrative accounts.

The memo says the double-barreled threat of $600 billion in cuts to the Pentagon budget over the coming decade — roughly 10% — combined with plans to fund the military’s 2013 operations at 2012’s level for at least awhile, means that cuts are inevitable:

I therefore authorize all Defense Components to begin implementing measures that will help mitigate our budget execution risks. For now, and to the extent possible, any actions taken must be reversible at a later date in the event that Congress acts to remove the risks I have described. The actions should be structured to minimize harmful effects on our people and on operations and unit readiness.

“In the event that Congress acts to remove the risks I have described?” Nice to see that even former Harvard professors have a sense of humor.

Full Carter memo here.