Secretary Gates and Veterans for Smart Power

August 26, 2010 By Jordan Smith

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates recently called on Capitol Hill to recognize “the critical role that agencies like State and AID play” and provide the resources needed in the International Affairs Budget to restore the drop in civilian personnel.  Gates cited a drop from 16,000 employees at the height of the Cold War to the low levels seen at USAID today.  The military blog Stripes Central, blog of the Stars and Stripes newspaper, clarified with USAID that the actual number of employees in 2006 was even lower than Gates’ shocking numbers; only 8,000, even when you include all “civil service, Foreign Service, Foreign Service nationals, American personnel service contractors, and others.’” That’s half of what USAID once was—at a time when the world has needed U.S. development expertise as never before.  Stars & Stripes points out that USAID has seen these significant cuts in personnel despite calls from not only the Secretary of Defense, but the Secretary of State, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, and the President himself.

Their call for greater investments in development diplomacy is seconded by America’s veterans. For this reason, the USGLC has launched its Veterans for Smart Power movement, an effort to enlist America’s greatest heroes for the greatest mission yet: supporting a foreign policy that elevates diplomacy and development alongside defense as the three pillars of American foreign policy. We’re proud to announce thousands of veterans and their supporters have signed-on to this cause in just one week, helping elevate the military voice on this important issue. Sign the petition to Congress urging Members to support a smart power national security strategy that invests in non-military tools of development and diplomacy. While you’re at it, be sure and join the Facebook discussion with thousands of other veterans and their supporters to show you know first-hand that a strong military is essential to keep America safe, but that military alone cannot defeat today’s global threats.