Romney warns against defense cuts, says US still faces global threats

Mitt Romney warned against shrinking the U.S. defense budget on Monday, pledging to maintain America's status as the world's "strongest" military power.

“I wish I could tell you the world is a safe place today. It is not,” Romney said in his Memorial Day address in San Diego, where he highlighted the threats from Iran’s nuclear program, Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal, China’s military rise and several other factors.

Romney warned against what he called a European path of shrinking military capabilities, arguing instead that the United States must “commit to preserve America as the strongest military, second to none, with no comparable power anywhere in the world.”

“A strong America is the best deterrent to war that ever has been invented,” Romney said at the Veterans Museum and Memorial Center.

Romney’s speech was largely devoted to honoring veterans — including several attending the event — and fallen soldiers.

While he did not mention President Obama by name and Obama’s Memorial Day remarks similarly steered clear of politics, Romney’s comments followed his campaign-trail calls to boost military spending and criticism of Obama’s defense strategy.

Romney has pledged to “reverse Obama-era military cuts.”

Obama in January laid out plans for a reshaped force that he said would maintain military superiority but slow the growth of the defense budget as the nation looks beyond the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“[O]ur military will be leaner, but the world must know the United States is going to maintain our military superiority with armed forces that are agile, flexible and ready for the full range of contingencies and threats,” Obama said.

The military is facing $487 billion in spending cuts over the next decade as a result of the budget deal that the White House and congressional Republicans struck last year.

Another half-trillion dollars in cuts is slated to start taking effect next year unless lawmakers and the White House reach a deal to avoid sequestration.

Obama’s top military officials have said the military cannot withstand the additional $500 billion in sequester cuts.