Washington — Defense Secretary Leon Panetta is delivering a sober message to lawmakers: Spending cuts are coming, so work with me to avoid a hollow military.
Panetta is testifying Thursday before a House committee. He'll be joined by Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, who will be making his first appearance on Capitol Hill since becoming chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Their appearance comes as spiraling deficits and rampant debt have forced the federal government to reduce spending, even at the Pentagon, whose budget has nearly doubled to some $700 billion in the 10 years since the 2001 terror attacks.
Earlier this week, Panetta said Congress must work with him on the cuts and be prepared to see a favorite base or weapon system eliminated or scaled back.