Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin Dempsey (photo: Erin A. Kirk-Cuomo via Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff/flickr)

I noted this morning that some defense establishmentarians have reached the “bargaining stage” on the trigger cuts, trying to get out of the situation with minimal albeit tangible damage to the military budget.

Not everyone is there yet. Witness Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Martin Dempsey, today suggesting that trigger cuts will start a war:

At a Senate Appropriations defense subcommittee hearing, Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the Pentagon has gone along with recent targeted cuts to limited targeted cuts, but argued that the the sweeping across-the-board cuts in the so-called sequestration would weaken the country’s ability to deter adversaries and therefore lead to more war.

“Sequestration is absolutely certain to upend this balance. It would lead to further end-strike reductions, the potential cancellation of major weapons systems and the disruption of global operations,” Dempsey said. “We can’t yet say precisely how bad the damage would be, but it is clear that sequestration would risk hollowing out our force and reducing its military options available to the nation. We would go from being unquestionably powerful everywhere to being less visible globally and presenting less of an overmatch to our adversaries, and that would translate into a different deterrent calculus, and potentially, therefore, increase the likelihood of conflict.”

Because as we all know, America is literally on the brink of being attacked at any possible moment by standing armies, all of whom are just waiting for us to slip back to a powerless time with a level of spending like the FY2007 budget, when we only spent nearly as much as every country on Earth did on their militaries combined, not more than every country on Earth. Clearly this will make us the military equivalent of the 98-pound weakling. So if you want to be killed in your bed by some Chinese or Russian infantry unit, go ahead and stop the checks for the always-crashing V-22 Osprey from flowing.

But if Dempsey, and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, are using the threat of attack to avoid the cuts, the defense contractors are going one better – using the threat of pink slips:

Facing economic uncertainty, defense contractors are plotting to spur Congress to nix the automatic budget cuts set to begin next year.

The plan? Threaten to send out layoff notices — hundreds of thousands of them, right before Election Day.

Congress, industry leaders contend, has left them few options. Federal law, they say, requires employers to give notice of 60 days to workers facing layoffs.

For President Barack Obama and congressional incumbents, the timing couldn’t be worse. With the automatic cuts, called sequestration, set to begin taking effect on Jan. 2, the layoff notices would have to be sent out by Nov. 2 — four days before this fall’s elections.

Now THERE’S an October surprise for you! There’s no accounting for the impact of hundreds of thousands of layoff notices the Friday before the election. And you know that the contractors will “cover their bases” by handing out notices broadly, to anyone who has the slightest chance of a layoff as a result of the automatic cuts. The numbers will rise much higher than reality, increasing the anxiety.

They don’t call it a military-industrial complex for nothing. And this is why their plants are in every district, in every state, all over the country.