February 12, 2018

1,200+ Veterans Voice Opposition to Cuts for Diplomacy and Foreign Aid, Urge Congress to “Stay Vigilant”

Veterans from all 50 states build on the leadership of 150+ three and four-star generals and admirals, urging Congress to protect resources for America’s civilian forces as Administration proposes dangerous cut to State Department and USAID

WASHINGTON – More than 1,200 veterans from all branches of the military and all 50 states just sent a letter to the House and Senate leadership urging Congress to “strengthen, not weaken, our leadership around the world” and testified that “investments in the State Department and USAID will be essential if we are to solidify our hard-fought gains and prevent other bad actors from filling the void.”

This opposition comes just one day after more than 150 retired three and four-star generals and admirals pressed Congressional leadership in their own letter against any new cuts for America’s frontline diplomats and development professionals, reminding lawmakers that “today’s crises do not have military solutions alone.”

This strong voice from the military also follows Congressional testimony from every regional Combatant Commander – from CENTCOM to AFRICOM – alongside Secretary of Defense James Mattis and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Joseph Dunford reinforcing the critical importance of the State Department and USAID to U.S. national security.

Both military letters come as the Administration’s Fiscal Year 2019 budget proposal dangerously slashes the International Affairs Budget by what could be close to 30%, despite the call in the President’s National Security Strategy that “we must upgrade our diplomatic capabilities to compete in the current environment.”

The full text of the letter is below and the PDF is available here with all the signatures.

1,215 Veterans from All 50 States and Every Branch of the Military Oppose Cuts to the International Affairs Budget

The Honorable Paul Ryan
Speaker of the House
U.S. House of Representatives

The Honorable Nancy Pelosi
Minority Leader
U.S. House of Representatives

The Honorable Mitch McConnell
Majority Leader
U.S. Senate

The Honorable Chuck Schumer
Minority Leader
U.S. Senate

Dear Speaker Ryan, Minority Leader Pelosi, Majority Leader McConnell, and Minority Leader Schumer,

We write as veterans of all branches of America’s Armed Forces to share how our service in uniform has convinced us that diplomacy and development are critical tools alongside the military to keep America safe. We believe that with today’s escalating global crises, America must strengthen, not weaken, our leadership around the world.

As members of the military, many of us served on the frontlines alongside America’s diplomats and development professionals. We saw firsthand how our civilian forces must continue to be part and parcel of a comprehensive national security strategy. With the recent military progress against ISIS, we know that strategic investments in the State Department and USAID will be essential if we are to solidify our hard-fought gains and prevent other bad actors from filling the void.

As Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis testified, “America has two fundamental powers, the power of intimidation…America’s awesome determination to defend herself, and the power of inspiration which is heavily conveyed overseas by our Department of State.” Yet America’s critical civilian international affairs programs saw proposals that would have drawn down our presence around the world. As you and your colleagues look ahead to the federal budget for Fiscal Year 2019, we hope you will support strong resources for America’s global leadership.

Thank you for your commitment to America’s safety, security, and prosperity. We ask you to stay vigilant and ensure that our country makes the commitments necessary to prevent conflict so that we only send our brothers and sisters in uniform into harm’s way as a last resort.

Thank you for your consideration.



The U.S. Global Leadership Coalition (www.usglc.org) is a broad-based influential network of 500 businesses and NGOs; national security and foreign policy experts; and business, faith-based, academic, military, and community leaders in all 50 states who support strategic investments to elevate development and diplomacy alongside defense in order to build a better, safer world.