The U.S. Secretary of Defense says the country has made a turning point in its military history, including a new defense strategy with $487 billion of spending cuts; but he says it’ll take more sacrifice to maintain the U.S. position as a global leader. Panetta addressed an audience over 1,000 at the University of Louisville’s Papa John Stadium Thursday night. This was the first visit from a sitting Defense Secretary to U of L’s McConnell Center for Political Leadership lecture series.
Panetta was appointed by President Barack Obama last April and previously served as the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency director. He signed on to oversee the end of two U.S. wars and some of the largest military budget cuts in U.S. history.
Panetta has supported Mr. Obama’s budget and on Thursday said even Congress is not immune to helping protect U.S. values.
“All of us in Washington need to demonstrate the same leadership that we count on from our troops in battle. They make sacrifices in order to achieve their mission. Surely those of us in Washington can make sacrifices in order to govern this nation,” he said.
Under the new defense strategy national security would be maintained and Panetta urged Congress not to balance the budget on the defense department’s back.
He further addressed the importance of public service and the importance of public service.
“I would urge all of you here, even those for whom military service is not an option or a desire, to consider how you can give back to the country that has given us so much. Remember that you too have a responsibility, and an opportunity, to contribute and make a difference,” said Panetta.
When asked, Panetta acknowledged cyber threats were among the various issues keeping him up at night.