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That's the Limit, For Now: Defense Secretary Leon Panetta believes that the US would face "hollowing out" its military if the "sequester mechanism" actually comes into play. Panetta told reporters Sept. 20, during a briefing on the DADT repeal, that the Defense Department could trim another $450 billion over the next 10 years, but it is "not going to be an easy process" and will inevitably "force us to take on greater risk." However, if the "potentially devastating mechanism known as sequester" takes effect, forcing additional cuts, it would "seriously weaken our military, and it would really make us unable to protect this nation." Additionally, said Panetta, the sequester would affect our economic strength. "Cancellation of weapon systems, construction projects, research activity would seriously cripple our industrial base," he said, adding, that "would be unacceptable not only to me as Secretary of Defense but to our ability to be able to maintain the best defense system." (DOD transcript)