In an appearance on NBC's "Meet the Press," Panetta said that while the Navy SEALs and special forces are prepared for specified threats, in "broader crises, such as the Middle East, we are going to be impacting on our readiness and our ability to respond to a crisis in that part of the world."
"I think our readiness has been badly damaged," he said. "We've got 12 combat squadrons that have been grounded. Half of the Air Force is not combat-ready. We've got ships that are not being deployed. We've got training rotations that have been canceled. We've got 800,000 federal employees that have been furloughed under sequester and that are now taking a hit on the shutdown. All of this is impacting on our readiness and our ability to be able to handle a major crisis outside of Afghanistan."