Cutting $800 billion from defense spending as part of a larger deficit reduction effort would be difficult and risky, Army Gen. Martin Dempsey said Tuesday.
Dempsey, the nominee to become chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, made the remarks during his confirmation hearing at the Senate Armed Services Committee.
According to Reuters, President Barack Obama asked the Pentagon to find $400 billion in cuts to national security spending over the next 12 years. Lawmakers have proposed deeper cuts of $800 billion to $1 trillion.
“National security didn’t cause the debt crisis nor will it solve it,” Dempsey said.
Adm. Mike Mullen, current chair of the Joint Chiefs, called the national debt the biggest threat to national security during a visit to Afghanistan. Dempsey appeared to distance himself from Mullen’s comments during his written remarks.
“I wouldn’t describe our economic condition as the single-biggest threat to national security,” Dempsey said. “There are a lot of clear and present threats to our security in the current operational environment.”
Reuters reports Dempsey acknowledged his grave concern over the debt but cautioned against “neglecting” military and diplomatic power as the country works to cut the debt.