WASHINGTON - The Pentagon says pending automatic budget cuts will force it to reduce its presence in the Persian Gulf.
Specifically, the number of aircraft carriers would have to be cut from two to one. Two aircraft carrier groups have been kept in the Gulf for most of the past two years. Plans for the USS Harry S Truman to deploy to the Gulf later this week have been canceled.
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has been leading a campaign to replace the automatic cuts he warns would "hollow out" the military. The Pentagon has been providing greater details on the cuts it would have to make if Congress fails to both replace them and agree on a 2013 defense budget bill.
The carrier decision is one of the most significant announcements made thus far.