WASHINGTON, Sept 4 (Reuters) - Former top U.S. defense officials sounded an alarm over falling Pentagon spending on Thursday, warning that budget cuts had undermined military preparedness for future conflicts and were jeopardizing the U.S. leadership position in the world.
The officials, members of a panel created by Congress to evaluate the Pentagon's long-term defense plans, warned that the administration and lawmakers made a serious strategic misstep in 2011 when they ordered $1 trillion in cuts to defense spending over a decade.
"It is now becoming a national security issue," said Michele Flournoy, a former undersecretary of defense for policy. "It affects how we are viewed in the world, it affects the options the president has at his disposal to exercise American leadership."
The warning came just days before Congress returns from its August recess. Lawmakers will be under pressure to reach a deal to fund the government, including the Defense Department, in the 2015 fiscal year that begins Oct. 1.