WASHINGTON – Before he even has the job, Gen. Martin Dempsey, awaiting confirmation to be the next chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, rejected one of Adm. Mike Mullen’s most repeated talking points when he said the national debt was not the No. 1 threat to national security.
“I wouldn’t describe our economic condition as the single biggest threat to national security,” Dempsey wrote in his answers to the Senate Armed Services Committee. "There are a lot of clear and present threats to our security in the current operational environment."
Mullen, who retires from the chairman's post in October, has used the line for years to explain the fiscal imbalance and the destabilizing pressures it exerts. Mullen has said the debt strain negatively affects everything from the defense budget and support for troops and military families to the much wider economic stability between the U.S. and Asia, for example.
It's not that Dempsey doesn't think the debt is worrisome. It's just not No. 1.
“I agree that the national debt is a grave concern," he wrote. "Our national power is the aggregate of our diplomatic, military, and economic influence. We have to address our economic stature, but that doesn’t mean we can neglect the other instruments of national power.”