Military Brass Defend State Department Against White House Budget Ax by Joe Gould, Defense News
As the White House prepares to ask Congress for steep cuts to the U.S. State Department and United States Agency for International Development, the military’s top commanders are telling lawmakers that slashing diplomacy would undercut the military.
Over the last two months, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford and six combatant commanders — most recently U.S. Special Operations commander Gen. Raymond Thomas — have given fodder to lawmakers who argue that U.S. foreign policy cannot thrive on military might alone and that a full State Department budget is vital to national security.
In an exchange with Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., during his Senate Armed Services Committee appearance May 4, Thomas said cuts to diplomacy and foreign aid “would make our job harder.” The State Department is “indescribably critical” to U.S. Special Operations Command’s mission to advise and assist local forces to build their own capacity, he said.
“We are in 80 different countries, and we look to have the most enhanced relationship possible with every one of those countries through our country team,” Thomas said. “If that’s not the baseline for our United States government approach, then we are flawed from the start.” …