Top Pentagon officials, including Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, warn that a default on the national debt would threaten national security and harm military members and families.
“If the United States defaults, it would undermine the economic strength on which our national security rests,” Austin said. “It would also seriously harm our service members and their families because, as Secretary, I would have no authority or ability to ensure that our service members, civilians, or contractors would be paid in full or on time.”
Six former Defense secretaries sent a separate letter to Congress on Wednesday echoing the same concerns. The group implored legislators “to work together to raise the statutory debt limit and avoid catastrophic consequences for the Defense Department, our military families, and our position of leadership in the world.”
In July, the US reached its borrowing limit, and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen warned that leadership must raise the debt ceiling by Oct. 18 or risk a historic, catastrophic default.
Austin outlined what’s at stake in the event Congress fails to act, including the benefits “earned by and owed to 2.4 million military retirees and 400,000 survivors.”
The group of six former Pengaton chiefs says if the US fails to pay its millions of service members, “we will not have a highly capable military to fight and win the nation’s wars.”