Complacency Meets the Topline:

The Administration’s choice as the next Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff—Adm. Michael Mullen—told Senators at his confirmation hearing that he worries that the focus on Iraq, however appropriate, will cause the nation to “lapse into complacency about our still-mounting global responsibilities.” He urges staying engaged around the world, building partnerships, and improving our “strategic depth” through weapons modernization. Mullen views a growing Congressional inclination to put war on terror funding, which has been handled largely in supplemental requests, into the mainline defense budget. “I would have a great concern about a precipitous drop in the baseline defense budget given the strategic environment in which we’re living,” declared Mullen. He mentioned the equipment wear-out problems across the services, talking at one point about “airplanes in particular that are wearing out.” Following which, Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) asked, “It would be helped by a higher, increased topline in the defense budget?” Mullen’s answer: “Yes sir, it would.”