The House Armed Services Committee met Tuesday to receive testimony on The Future of National Defense and the U.S. Military Ten Years After 9/11: Perspectives from Outside Experts. HASC Chairman Howard P. “Buck” McKeon, R-Santa Clarita, made the following statement:
“As our nation marked the ten-year anniversary of the attacks on our nation this past Sunday, we remember and commemorate the lives lost on that day. We also honor the sacrifices made every day since then by our military and their families, as our Armed Forces continue to fight for our nation’s safety. This hearing is the second in our series of hearings to evaluate lessons learned since 9/11 and to apply those lessons to decisions we will soon be making about the future of our force. Last Thursday, we heard from former Chairmen and a Vice-Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Today, we will hear from outside experts, representing several well-known and highly respected organizations, to whom our Committee regularly turns for accurate and reliable research and analysis. While we will continue to solicit the expertise of former and current senior military and civilian leaders within the Department of Defense, it is important to gain perspective from professionals such as these who make their living conducting the type of forward-looking, strategic assessments we seek.
“I remain concerned that our nation is slipping back into the false-confidence of a September 10th mindset, believing our nation to be secure because the homeland has not been successfully attacked – believing that we can maintain a solid defense that is driven by budget choices, not strategic ones. As members of the Armed Services Committee, we must avoid the cart before the horse cliché. First we must decide what do we want our military to do, and only then evaluate savings within the Department.
“To date, that hasn’t happened – over half a trillion dollars has been cut from DoD already. Nevertheless, if the Joint Select Committee does not succeed in developing and passing a cohesive deficit reduction plan, an additional half a trillion dollars could be cut from our military automatically. On top of that looming concern, it remains to be seen whether or not additional cuts may be proposed by the Administration, even if the Super Committee is successful.
“As Chairman of the Armed Services Committee, I have two principle concerns that stem from recent military atrophy. The first is a security issue. In a networked and globalized world, the Atlantic and Pacific Ocean are no longer adequate to keep America safe. September 11th taught us that. The second is an economic concern. While it is true that our military power is derived from our economic power, we must recognize that this relationship is symbiotic. Cuts to our nation’s defense, either by eliminating programs or laying off soldiers, comes with an economic cost.
“The US military is the modern era’s greatest champion of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. It is time we focus our fiscal restraint on the driver of the debt, instead of the protector of our prosperity.”