Lieberman: Pentagon budget is an ‘unacceptable risk’

“In this budget, the U.S. military and our national security are being asked to pay the price for the fiscal responsibility of our government over the last decade,” Lieberman said at Tuesday’s Senate Armed Services Hearing on the budget.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey said they disagreed, arguing that the budget has some risks, just like every military strategy, and the risk is at an acceptable level.

“You can’t take a half-trillion out of the defense budget and not incur some risks,” Panetta said.

But he added that another national-security risk is having a debt that’s too big. “We have tried to step up to the plate and do our duty here,” he said.

Dempsey, who will submit a risk assessment to Congress in the coming weeks, said that the degree of risk in the budget stood at an acceptable level. But he added that sequestration cuts would become an “unacceptable risk,” in part because the forces have already been cut to the maximum level.

Panetta said that one of the biggest risks in the new budget is that having a smaller force makes it more difficult to mobilize to a larger force if it were needed. He said that the planned cuts leave “very little margin for error, and that, I think, is the biggest risk of all.”