More than 120 retired military officials are telling President Donald Trump and the Republican-controlled Congress to think twice about the need to increase spending at the Pentagon, urging them to back off of cuts to foreign aid and the State Department.
Many of the three- and four-star military officers who signed the letter explain that diplomacy plays an important role in foreign operations, stating that aid to other nations helps maintain a positive image for the U.S. abroad. Cuts to the State Department and other foreign projects, therefore, would be counterproductive to the aims of the U.S. military.
The letter itself, addressed specifically to Democratic and Republican leaders in Congress, borrows words once spoken by current Defense Secretary James Mattis, who in his position previous to his role in the Trump administration said, “If you don’t fully fund the State Department, then I need to buy more ammunition.”
A spokesperson for the Trump administration said on Monday that President Trump intended to raise revenues for the Pentagon by $54 billion. The president also wanted to make cuts elsewhere in the budget equal to that amount, including significant cuts to the State Department, the spokesperson said.
But the retired military officers disagreed with the need for cuts. “The State Department, USAID, Millennium Challenge Corporation, Peace Corps and other development agencies are critical to preventing conflict and reducing the need to put our men and women in uniform in harm’s way,” their letter states.
It goes on to state that, “the military will lead the fight against terrorism on the battlefield, but it needs strong civilian partners in the battle against the drivers of extremism – lack of opportunity, insecurity, injustice, and hopelessness.”
Many signers of the letter include prominent military advisers and generals, including Gen. George Casey (former chief of staff for the U.S. Army), Gen. David Petraeus (former director of the CIA) and Navy Adm. James Stavridis (former NATO supreme allied commander), among many others.
Read the full letter here.
Chris Walker has been writing about political issues for the past decade, including for sites such as Elite Daily, AMERICAblog, and Mic. You can follow him on Twitter @thatchriswalker.