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WATCH: Defense Secretary Leon Panetta Says Pentagon Budget Uncertainty Could Prompt 'Military Readiness Crisis'

In his opening statement at a Senate hearing on the September 11, 2012 attack on a U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta warned that Congress must act to address the Pentagon's budget uncertainty.

Earlier this week, President Obama called on lawmakers to pass an alternative spending plan before March 1 sequestration cuts go into effect.

Panetta said "we have

got to end the cloud of budget uncertainty that hangs over the Department of Defense and the entire U.S. government."

He added that his "greatest concern" is that the "budget uncertainty could prompt the most significant military readiness crisis in more than a decade."

Watch his remarks:

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