President Obama plans to exempt military personnel from sequestration next year if Congress does not act to cancel the automatic spending cuts, according to the White House budget office.

Office of Management and Budget Director Sylvia Burwell announced the commander-in-chief’s intentions in a letter on Friday to the Senate president — Vice President Biden — and House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio).

President Obama greets Marines and their families before a speech on Aug. 7. (Gregory Bull/AP)

“This is considered to be in the national interest to safeguard the resources necessary to compensate the men and women serving to defend our nation and to maintain the force levels required for national security,” Burwell said.

The White House was required under the sequester-founding Budget Control Act to notify Congress by Aug. 10 of its intent to exempt armed forces personnel.

Burwell noted in her letter that the exemption would place additional strain on other Pentagon accounts, including those that affect civilian defense employees. The sequester will require $52 billion in Defense Department cuts for fiscal 2014 if the austerity plan continues.

The Pentagon has signaled it will consider reductions in force next year if Congress does not cancel the sequester. This year, the Defense Department is placing civilian workers on unpaid leave for six days, relying on furloughs instead of workforce reductions in order to meet its cost-cutting targets.

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