Top GOP senators press Pentagon on specific cuts

By DONNA CASSATA | November 4, 2011 | 3:50 PM EDT

WASHINGTON (AP) — Top Republicans on the Senate Armed Services Committee are pressing Defense Secretary Leon Panetta for specifics on the "devastating effects" to the military from deeper defense cuts if a special bipartisan committee is unable to come up with a plan to reduce the deficit.

In a letter to Panetta, Sens. John McCain of Arizona and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina asked for "concrete terms" of what the cuts would mean. Panetta has used the phrases "devastating effects" and "doomsday mechanism" to describe the $1.2 trillion across-the-board, automatic cuts that would kick in if the supercommittee faltered. Half of those cuts would hit defense on top of some $450 billion in reductions.

McCain and Graham also met this past week to work on possible legislation to undo the military cuts.