Pentagon

Air Force leaders announced Thursday that they are planning for possible automatic spending cuts on March 1 with a hiring freeze, layoffs of temporary employees and other cost-cutting measures.

The actions echo the instructions Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta gave recently to senior Pentagon officials. Not just the military but other federal agencies are preparing for the across-the board cuts the same way, cancelling and delaying contracts, scaling back hiring, planning for furloughs.

The budget reductions, known as a sequester, will take effect unless Congress agrees to a deal to ends its standoff over how to reduce the federal deficit. A total of $85 billion would be cut from domestic and civilian military budgets over the rest of the fiscal year. That’s anywhere from 8 to 10 percent at each agency.