Heads of the House and Senate armed services committees are following through with pledges to recommend a deficit-cutting panel not impose additional cuts on the Pentagon’s discretionary budget.

House Armed Services Committee (HASC) Chairman Howard “Buck” McKeon (R-Calif.) and Ranking Member Adam Smith (D-Wash.) unveiled yesterday letters they wrote to the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, the so-called “super committee.” They both want the Pentagon spared from additional cuts but differ in suggesting how to do so. McKeon proposes cuts to entitlement spending, while Smith says the government needs to seek more revenue.

The deficit panel has a Nov. 23 deadline for crafting a proposal for cutting $1.2 trillion to $1.5 trillion in federal spending over the next decade. If it and Congress cannot agree on a plan, the defense budget will be cut by roughly $500 billion on top of the $450 billion-plus cut already made to the Pentagon’s 10-year spending plans in Budget Control Act of 2011 (BCA).

“We believe that additional reductions in the base budget of the Department of Defense (DoD) will compound deep reductions Congress has already imposed and critically compromise national security,” McKeon wrote in his letter to deficit committee. “We urge you to refrain from any further cuts in National Defense.”

Flanked by Republican HASC members at a Capitol Hill press conference yesterday, McKeon said he will continue spreading his message “that the super committee is to find the other $1.2 trillion out of the mandatory spending side.” He met with deficit committee co-chairman Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) earlier this week.

Smith wrote in his letter that he urges the deficit committee “to avoid cuts to the national defense accounts beyond the reductions already applied by the BCA,” saying they “could undermine national security.”

Still, Smith diverges from McKeon in “strongly” urging the deficit panel “to include significant revenue increases among its recommendations for satisfying deficit-reduction requirements.”

During a HASC hearing yesterday Defense Secretary Leon Panetta reiterated that he and President Barack Obama oppose further defense cuts by the deficit committee.

On the Senate side, SASC Chairman Carl Levin (D-Mich.) and Ranking Member John McCain (R-Ariz.) were finalizing letters to the deficit committee yesterday, before today’s deadline for congressional panels to submit their input on the pending cuts.

Levin and McCain said Wednesday they oppose defense cuts beyond the $450 billion-plus already enacted.

Levin told reporters he may suggest making changes to mandatory Pentagon spending, perhaps related to the TRICARE health-care program.

McKeon’s letter the deficit committee, similarly, states: “there are only two areas in which exclusively mandatory spending reductions could theoretically be achieved in the defense budget: changing military retirement and changing TRICARE for life.” The HASC chairman, though, told reporters yesterday he does not want to see such cuts made.