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“While it has become en vogue to bemoan the militarization of foreign policy, I think the report gets the balance correct,” Mr. McKeon said. “You rightly state that ‘the last 20 years have shown, America does not have the option of abandoning a leadership role in support of its national interests.’ Military decline is not an option.”

The Obama administration has recently asked the Pentagon to make cuts to some key weapons systems.

Asked about the report, Mr. Gates said on Thursday it has some “important contributions.”

“They’ve made some suggestions that I think we need to follow up on,” he said.

John Nagl, the president of the Center for a New American Security and a member of the independent panel, said he thinks the most important recommendation of the panel is the recommendation to make changes in the national-security planning and budgeting systems.

On the naval buildup, Mr. Nagl said: “Given the rising powers in Asia, we are going to have to continue policing the global commons and maintaining freedom of the seas.”