U.S. Deputy Defense Secretary Robert Work appealed on Wednesday for lawmakers to "end this madness" of across-the-board Pentagon spending cuts, saying they threaten U.S. military readiness and technological dominance at a time of complex global challenges.
Work, addressing a think-tank defense conference, said unless Congress is able to provide the Pentagon with greater budgetary stability and certainty, it runs the risk of building a military that "increasingly misaligned with the strategic environment."
Work's comments come as the Pentagon, which is under orders to cut nearly $1 trillion in projected spending over a decade, faces another year of budgetary uncertainty.
Although the 2015 fiscal year has started, Congress has not yet appropriated funding for the government, including defense, which has a base budget of $496 billion.
Instead, the government is funded with a resolution that continues spending based on last year's priorities through Dec. 11. Congress will have to decide whether to approve 2015 appropriations or extend the continuing resolution to keep the government running beyond that point.
The Pentagon also is preparing its fiscal 2016 budget, which will be released in February. Under current law, across-the-board spending cuts are due to return in 2016 and the department is facing uncertainty about whether Congress will ease the spending requirements as it did last year or let the cuts occur.
"We need funding passed at the president's budget level," Work told the conference at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. "We need flexibility in the way we manage the force, and we need budget stability."
(Reporting by David Alexander; Editing by Doina Chiacu)