WASHINGTON (AP) -- Defense Secretary Leon Panetta says looming across-the-board budget cuts will present the U.S. military with the most significant readiness crisis in more than a decade.
Panetta is testifying to Congress on Thursday. He's urging lawmakers to head off automatic spending reductions quickly to keep from harming national defense.
He says the lack of a 2013 defense budget compounds the problem. Panetta is urging Congress to deal with the federal deficit and develop a balanced budget, quote, "to stop this constant uncertainty."
The automatic cuts, known as sequester, result from the failure of Congress to cut the deficit by $1.2 trillion over a decade. The Pentagon faces a $42.7 billion budget cut starting in March and ending in September.
Panetta is appearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee.