Biggest National Security Threat Is U.S. Fiscal Crisis

May 11, 2011
By Robert K. Ackerman
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The fiscal crisis in the United States is its primary security threat today, explained Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, USA, commander, Joint Forces Command at the AFCEA and USNI Joint Warfighting Conference in Virginia Beach. The previous decade was one of military expansion, but the next one will be a decade of contraction, he warned. But the most important thing is that "we do not get caught in the trap of doing more with less. There are still redundancies, and we have to figure out how much we need to eliminate them," he explained, but he says this needs to be done carefully within a process. To reach the sizable cuts, there has to be a strategy about what we are willing to stop doing, and that has to be followed by a national security discussion, he said. "From a policy perspective, we have to decide what cuts are going to result in savings and reductions and then see if we can accept the risks." The way forward is through a more integrated joint force that eliminates redundancy. The military and civil government must mitigate reduced capacity by working together, and military leaders must have a view that encompasses all the services. The general also stressed that it is important to leverage the success of recent joint and coalition warfare and more importantly to learn from shortcomings as well as from successes to go forward in changing times. The United States' international partners are also facing fiscal challenges, and so it must remain engaged with the global world. The general called for the United States to continue to reach out and enable and train its coailition partners, both now and in the future. The world today, he related, is increasingly changing and complex with people connected immediately in many places, but many still live in isolation. "The globalization by communications and technology has allowed the disenfranchised to see what they are missing and challenge the status quo at the speed of Twitter," he emphasized. It is in the United States' best interest that all nations enjoy better prosperity and security, he added.

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