Secretary Tells Defense Workers to Plan Normal Work Week
By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, July 30, 2011 Plan to come to work as usual next week, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta told the Defense Department workforce in a message sent last evening.
The secretary issued the message to clear up any questions about the coming work week in light of Congress’ failure so far to agree on a plan to meet its financial obligations and raise the debt ceiling so that the country can pay its bills.
Stalemate continued this afternoon in debate over raising the debt ceiling, with less than four days remaining before United States could begin to default on some of its debts. President Barack Obama urged Congress to put politics aside and come to an agreement during today’s video address to the nation.
“The president expects that Congress will do its job, enact an increase of the debt ceiling that he can sign into law, and end this impasse,” Panetta wrote. “I am sending this note to remind you that Department of Defense personnel should plan to come to work next week, as scheduled, at their normal place and time.”
The secretary said he is proud of the “patience, diligence, and professionalism … [employees] all have shown through this challenging time in our nation's history,” calling it “something the American people can be proud of - and I am proud of as well.”
Panetta offered assurance that as defense secretary, he will do “everything possible to ensure that our national defense is protected.”
Service members peppered Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, during his visit to Afghanistan today, with questions about the impact of the U.S. debt crisis on military operations and benefits.
“I’ve said for a long time, I believe that the single biggest threat to national security is this growing debt,” Mullen said during a troop talk at Camp Leatherneck. “The more that grows, the more likelihood that the defense budget will get smaller.”