Adm. Mike Mullen: 'National Debt Is Our Biggest Security Threat'

06/24/2010 12:00 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

America's highest-ranking military official thinks the U.S. has bigger security problems than al-Qaeda, suicide bombers and an increasingly deadly nine-year war.

"Our national debt is our biggest national security threat," said Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, at a "Tribute to the Troops" breakfast sponsored by The Hill on Thursday morning, according to two staffers at the gathering. He also noted a troubling trend -- that veterans from Afghanistan and Iraq are becoming homeless at four times the rate the country witnessed in the wake of Vietnam.

Mullen's national security analysis may sound off the wall, but a large number of Americans agree, according to a recent Gallup poll. Gallup reports that terrorism and federal government debt are tied as the most worrisome perceived threats to Americans, with healthcare costs ranking a close third. Only 26 percent of Americans polled deemed the Iraq and Afghanistan wars to be "extremely serious" threats to the future well-being of the U.S., compared with four in ten who ranked the national debt at that level.