Former CentComm Commander: US Military Might Depends on Debt Handling

By Melanie Arter | January 27, 2015 | 4:47pm EST

U.S. military personnel in Afghanistan. (AP)

(CNSNews.com) - Former U.S. Central Command Commander James Mattis told the Senate Armed Services Committee at Tuesday’s hearing on national security threats that in order to maintain its military power, the U.S. must get its fiscal house in order.

“If we refuse to reduce our debt/pay down our deficit, what is the impact on national security for future generations who will inherit this irresponsible debt and the taxes to service it? No nation in history has maintained its military power if it failed to keep its fiscal house in order,” Mattis said in his opening statement.

Mattis told the committee to consider “what we must do if the national debt is assessed to be the biggest national security threat we face.”

“As President Eisenhower noted, the foundation of military strength is our economic strength. In a few short years paying interest on our debt will be a bigger bill than what we pay for defense. Much of that interest money is destined to leave America for overseas,” he said. “If we refuse to reduce our debt/pay down our deficit, what is the impact on national security for future generations who will inherit this irresponsible debt and the taxes to service it?”

“How do you urgently halt the damage caused by sequestration?” Mattis asked. “No foe in the field can wreck such havoc on our security that mindless sequestration is achieving. Congress passed it because it was viewed as so injurious that it would force wise choices.”

Mattis said sequestration, automatic across-the-board cuts to the federal budget, “has failed and today we use arithmetic vice sound thinking to run our government, despite emerging enemy threats.”

“This committee must lead the effort to repeal the sequestration that is costing military readiness and long term capability while sapping our troop’s morale. Without predictability in budget matters, no strategy can be implemented by your military leaders,” he said.

As CNSNews.com previously reported, the “sequestration” provisions in the Budget Control Act of 2011 called for cutting $54 billion in discretionary federal spending in 2013, according to the CBO.

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