The United States has had many successes in the war on terror over the last decade. Osama bin Laden is dead; al Qaeda has been weakened. And, the Taliban no longer has the same momentum. However, as the nation commemorates the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, America must remain vigilant, cautioned former senior military leaders Thursday during a House Armed Services Committee hearing on the impact of 9/11 on defense policy. Though somewhat broken, al Qaeda will continue to wage war on the West. The nation also will face new threats, such as China’s increasing military power, Iran’s nuclear capabilities, and others that remain unknown. America may even be a threat to itself if it allows budgetary woes to outweigh strategic thinking, they said. “As a nation, we’ve always taken great pride in the fact that our military is the best equipped in the world. Deep budget cuts to defense will bring that fact into question,” said retired Gen. Richard Myers, Joint Chiefs Chairman from 2001 to 2005. Myers’ successor, retired Marine Corps Gen. Peter Pace, said “the nation now has the chance . . . to give our armed forces the chance to breathe,” after a decade of continuously fighting. (See also HASC Chairman Buck McKeon’s video on post-9/11 military.) (Myers written statement)
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.