As the Super Committee—tasked by Congress to find at least $1.5 trillion in savings from the federal budget—continues it’s work, many are worried about the implications their actions (or inactions) may have for our national security. Erin Van de Voorde set the scene last month:

The situation looks bleak. The military faces hundreds of billions of dollars in defense cuts while being involved in three military engagements. On the horizon is the new Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction—a.k.a. the “Super Committee”—and the possibility of a $1 trillion “trigger” that would change the military as we know it.

With these issues in mind, Heritage traveled to New York City on the eve of the United Nation’s General Assembly to attend the first ever Concordia Summit on global extremism.

We sat down with Frances Fragos Townsend, former Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism and former New Jersey Governor and 9/11 Comission Chairman Thomas Kean to discuss the national security threats we face and the concerns they have for our national defense in light of these looming cuts in defense.

With economic uncertainty at the forefront of most Americans minds, national security threats are often a distant concern. But Townsend made it clear that combatting terrorism and securing our defenses is as much an economic issue as a military one:

Americans must understand that the reason for defense is to ensure that you don’t suffer a 9/11 type attack. We lost trillions of dollars from our economy – it threw us into a tailspin in the wake of 9/11. We don’t ever want to see that happen again. Least of all now, in a time of economic hardship.

As Kean explained, while there is—as Heritage has noted—waste in the defense budget, “there’s also bone and sinew and things that are important for keeping the American people safe. And I hope the committee is intelligent enough and knowledgeable enough to make those distinctions.”