Gen. Dempsey: Deep defense cuts will harm national security

Gen. Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff nominee, May 27, 2011

From Charles Hoskinson, POLITICO:  Gen. Martin Dempsey on Tuesday became the latest member of President Barack Obama’s new national security team to warn that deep defense spending cuts under consideration to help reduce the federal debt could leave the military unable to perform essential tasks.

Dempsey also set himself apart from the man he would replace, current Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen, telling the Senate Armed Services Committee that he doesn’t agree with Mullen’s oft-repeated statement that the $14.3 trillion federal debt is the greatest threat to national security. . . .

The Pentagon is expected to take a significant hit in any resolution of the debt crisis. Obama has called for a $400 billion reduction in security spending over 12 years — the bulk of it from the military — and various other plans call for reductions of up to $800 billion or $1 trillion.

“I believe $800 [billion] would be extraordinarily difficult and very high risk,” Dempsey told the panel, saying at that point the military would be unable to carry out the current strategy for protecting U.S. interests and would need to develop another in line with fiscal realities.

His remarks echoed those last week by Adm. James Winnefeld, Obama’s nominee for vice chairman, who told the panel Thursday that “as we get to a higher and higher number, we’re going to find that the strategies that we currently have are going to reach inflection points where we’re just going to have to stop doing some of the things that we currently are able to do because what we can’t afford is to have any kind of a cut result in a hollow force. We can’t afford to have a cut result in irreversible damage to our industrial base.”  (photo: AP)

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