Michael Mullen, a former chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs, says the U.S. defense budget can be trimmed and more focus should be placed on Washington’s non-military national security tools.
The retired Navy admiral joined other members of the defense community by reiterating his opposition to the $500 billion, 10-year cut to planned Pentagon spending that will kick in Jan. 2 unless Congress and the president reach a $1.2 trillion deficit-paring plan or agree to delay the automatic cuts.
During an event in Washington, Mullen and former Sen. John Warner, R-Va., said those reductions would undercut national security because they would be implemented by taking about 9 percent from all non-exempt parts of the Pentagon budget.
“You cannot take a sledgehammer” to the Pentagon budget, Warner said. “We can and should reduce it. But it has to be done carefully. ... You cannot break defense and hope to glue it back together the next day.”
Mullen appeared, however, to break with many of his former uniformed colleagues when he said two things: That the Pentagon can take more budget cuts and “resources need to be shifted to the non-military” devices in Washington’s national security and foreign policy toolbox.
The duo’s comments came during the kick-off event for a new group called the Coalition for Fiscal and National Security, which aims to help foster solutions to America’s fiscal woes.