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When Secretary Panetta visited troops in Afghanistan and Iraq last month, press reports heralded his "rough and tumble" rhetoric and "salty" exchanges with the troops. But beneath these lighthearted personal moments lies a serious truth: short of the president, no one bears greater responsibility for the safety and well being of our military volunteers than the secretary of defense. In a time of expanding missions, shrinking budgets, and the prospect of hundreds of billions of "Super Committee" cuts waiting in the wings, those responsibilities must lie heavy on the secretary's brow.
Fortunately, this is not Secretary Panetta's first time in the budgetary rodeo. He has a well-earned reputation as a tough budgeteer, earned from his tenure as chairman of the House Budget Committee and as director of the Office of Management and Budget. So when he warns that Congress is looking at "doomsday" cuts, America would be wise to listen.
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