US military leaders pleaded with Congress today to pass a 2013 defence budget.
They claimed in a letter to congressional leaders the military will be severely compromised if the Pentagon has to continue operating on last year's budget.
"We are on the brink of creating a hollow force," said the letter signed by the chiefs of the army, navy, air force, marine corps and national guard, as well as the chairman and vice-chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
The Pentagon faces the threat of drastic budget cuts if Congress and the president don't agree debt-reduction measures by March, compounded by the failure to pass a 2013 budget.
The top brass said: "Should this looming crisis be left unaddressed, we will have to ground aircraft, return ships to port and stop driving combat vehicles in training."