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Panetta, speaking on CBS’s "Face the Nation" ahead of Tuesday’s New Hampshire primary, also reminded Republican presidential contenders who have criticized the Pentagon’s new military strategy that the decision to cut $487 billion in defense spending was made by a bipartisan Congress.

Some Republicans have expressed concerns about the cuts and their impact. Leading Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney charged that President Barack Obama’s new military strategy unveiled this week was "inexcusable and unthinkable" because it would reduce U.S. global military capability.

The new strategy, which is meant to guide defense spending over the next decade as the military cuts back, calls for greater emphasis on Asia even as the Army and Marines shrink to become smaller and more agile forces.

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