Briefing Bullets

Here are the key quotes that hit the target in Thursday’s Pentagon press briefing with Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Joint Chiefs Chairman Martin Dempsey:

ON AFGHANISTAN:

PANETTA: “I believe very strongly that Gen. [John] Allen’s plan that was adopted in Chicago by NATO is working and we’re fully committed to finishing the job.”

PANETTA: “We’re not going to walk backward from what we’ve accomplished.”

DEMPSEY: “No option is entirely off the table…I’m not prepared to say anything more than that.” Dempsey said he provided the “zero troops” option to the White House national security staff on request, but not yet to President Obama directly.

ON THE BUDGET:

PANETTA: “We have no idea what the hell is going to happen.”

PANETTA: “We really have no choice but to prepare for the worst”

PANETTA: “This fiscal uncertainty has become a very serious threat to our national security.”

DEMPSEY: “I am very concerned that our elected leaders were unable to set aside sequestration during the last Congress.”

ON HAGEL:

PANETTA: “I’ve known Chuck a long time. He is the right person to lead the department at this time.”

ON WASHINGTON:

PANETTA, on what’s changed in his decades-long time in Washington: “Governing was good politics…for whatever reason that concept has been lost, and I think that there’s an attitude that governing isn’t necessarily is good politics, that gridlock and confrontation are good politics. And I think we pay a price for that, that that’s what’s happening.”

ON BEING UNABLE TO STOP SYRIA FROM USING CHEMICAL WEAPONS:

DEMPSEY: “If they decide to use it, I think we would be reacting.”

DOD photo by Glenn Fawcett

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