Troops worry about defense, job cuts

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Photo -   Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, left, is greeted by Commanding General U.S. Army Europe Lt. Gen. Don Campbell, center, and Commanding Gen. U.S. Army Africa Major Gen. Pat Donahue as the secretary arrives to speak to the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team at U.S. Army Garrison in Vicenza, Italy, Thursday, Jan. 17, 2013. Panetta is in Italy as part of a weeklong swing across Europe, meeting with defense ministers to talk about ongoing conflicts in Afghanistan and Mali. This is expected to be Panetta's last overseas trip as Pentagon chief, as he long has planned to step down once his replacement is confirmed. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, left, is greeted by Commanding General U.S. Army Europe Lt. Gen. Don Campbell, center, and Commanding Gen. U.S. Army Africa Major Gen. Pat Donahue as the secretary arrives to speak to the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team at U.S. Army Garrison in Vicenza, Italy, Thursday, Jan. 17, 2013. Panetta is in Italy as part of a weeklong swing across Europe, meeting with defense ministers to talk about ongoing conflicts in Afghanistan and Mali. This is expected to be Panetta's last overseas trip as Pentagon chief, as he long has planned to step down once his replacement is confirmed. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
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VICENZA, Italy (AP) — The soldiers of the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team have gone to war five times since 9/11, and 84 have been killed — including 13 during their current deployment to Afghanistan.

But when members of the unit had a chance to ask U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta questions Thursday, the top issue on their minds was jobs.

How would the impending budget cuts affect civilians at their post? And what will it all mean for their spouses and family members who work on the base?

Panetta had few answers as Congress struggles to reach an agreement that would avoid massive budget cuts. But he made clear his anger with Washington lawmakers, saying they risk possibly making constituents mad, while the troops are putting their lives on the line.

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