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UPDATE 1-Pentagon delays carrier's Mideast deployment over budget woes

* Pentagon faces $46 billion in cuts over seven months * Seeks smaller-than-expected military pay raise for 2014 * Threatened cuts follow a decade of growth By David Alexander WASHINGTON, Feb 6 (Reuters) - Defense Secretary Leon Panetta delayed deployment of an aircraft carrier strike group to the Middle East on Wednesday because of budget uncertainty, hours after warning that congressional inaction on financial matters threatened U.S. security.

'Dysfunction' in Congress puts US at risk: Panetta

Chronic deadlock in Congress threatens to derail the US economy, damage national security and undermine public trust in its leaders, outgoing US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta warned Wednesday. In his last major policy address days before he retires, the Pentagon chief blasted lawmakers for what he called a lack of leadership that has produced escalating budget crises.

US scales back to one carrier in Gulf: officials

The US military will maintain only one aircraft carrier in the Gulf instead of two due to potential deep budget cuts that could kick in next month, Pentagon officials said Wednesday. For several years, the United States has kept two carriers deployed in the Gulf due to tensions with Iran, but uncertainty surrounding the Pentagon's budget forced the decision, officials said. The USS Harry S. Truman had been scheduled to head to the Gulf on Friday but Defense Secretary Leon Panetta canceled the deployment after conferring with Navy commanders, officials said.

Pentagon delays deployment of carrier to Mideast over budget woes

* Outgoing defense chief warns budget concerns undermining security * Pentagon on brink of having to cut $46 billion over seven months * Move could mean unpaid leave for 800,000 civilian Pentagon workers By David Alexander WASHINGTON, Feb 6 (Reuters) - Defense Secretary Leon Panetta delayed deployment of an aircraft carrier strike group to the Middle East due to budget uncertainty on Wednesday, hours after warning that financial concerns were a threat to U.S. security.

'Dysfunction' in Congress puts US at risk: Panetta

Chronic political deadlock in Congress threatens to derail the US economy, damage national security and undermine public trust in its leaders, outgoing US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta warned Wednesday. In his last major policy address days before he retires, the Pentagon chief blasted lawmakers for what he called a lack of leadership that has produced escalating budget crises.

Partisanship in Congress puts US at risk: Panetta

Chronic partisanship in Congress poses the biggest risk to America's economy, national security and political life, US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta warned in a speech Wednesday. In his last major policy address before he retires this month, the Pentagon chief blasted lawmakers for a lack of leadership that has produced an escalating series of budget crises.

Iran escalating efforts to destabilize region -Panetta

WASHINGTON, Feb 1 (Reuters) - Outgoing U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta accused Iran of an intensified campaign to destabilize the Middle East by smuggling anti-aircraft weapons to militant allies, The Wall Street Journal reported on Friday. "There is no question when you start passing MANPADS around, that becomes a threat, not just to military aircraft but to civilian aircraft," Panetta told the newspaper in an interview. "That is an escalation."

U.S. public largely backs combat role for women - poll

WASHINGTON, Jan 29 (Reuters) - The U.S. public largely backs the Pentagon's decision to lift restrictions on women in combat, a poll showed on Tuesday. Sixty-six percent of those polled said they support letting women serve in ground units that engage in close combat, while 26 percent are opposed, according to the survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press and the Washington Post. Opinion on the issue is little changed from a Washington Post/ABC News survey two years ago, Pew said in a statement.

U.S. to provide aerial refueling for French offensive in Mali

WASHINGTON, Jan 26 (Reuters) - The United States has agreed to fly tankers to refuel French jet fighters and bombers attacking al Qaeda-affiliated militants who have established a foothold in northern Mali, U.S. defense officials said on Saturday. The decision, in response to an earlier French request, expands U.S. involvement, which so far has been limited to sharing intelligence and providing airlift support to carry a French mechanized infantry unit to Mali.

U.S. to lift ban on women in front-line combat jobs- official

WASHINGTON, Jan 23 (Reuters) - U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has decided to lift the military's ban on women serving in combat, a move that could open thousands of front-line jobs to women, a senior U.S. defense official said. The decision, which will be formally announced later, would give the individual military services until 2016 to seek an exemption if they believe any jobs should remain closed to women, the official said.
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