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121 retired military officers appeal to Congress on foreign aid

Stephan Savoia / AP

A group of 121 retired three and four star flag and general officers sent a letter to Congressional leadership and the Trump administration yesterday asking them not to cut funding foreign aid.

"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."

Background: Office of Management and Budget officials told reporters yesterday that Trump's budget plans will include "a large reduction in foreign aid," according to an ABC report. Foreign aid is one percent of U.S. spending.

Dear Speaker Ryan, Minority Leader Pelosi, Majority Leader McConnell, and Minority Leader Schumer:
As you and your colleagues address the federal budget for Fiscal Year 2018, we write as retired three and four star flag and general officers from all branches of the armed services to share our strong conviction that elevating and strengthening diplomacy and development alongside defense are critical to keeping America safe.
We know from our service in uniform that many of the crises our nation faces do not have military solutions alone – from confronting violent extremist groups like ISIS in the Middle East and North Africa to preventing pandemics like Ebola and stabilizing weak and fragile states that can lead to greater instability. There are 65 million displaced people today, the most since World War II, with consequences including refugee flows that are threatening America's strategic allies in Israel, Jordan, Turkey, and Europe.
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. As Secretary James Mattis said while Commander of U.S. Central Command, "If you don't fully fund the State Department, then I need to buy more ammunition." 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.
We recognize that America's strategic investments in diplomacy and development – like all of U.S. investments – must be effective and accountable. Significant reforms have been undertaken since 9/11, many of which have been embodied in recent legislation in Congress with strong bipartisan support – on human trafficking, the rights of women and girls, trade and energy in Africa, wildlife trafficking, water, food security, and transparency and accountability.
We urge you to ensure that resources for the International Affairs Budget keep pace with the growing global threats and opportunities we face. Now is not the time to retreat.
cc: Secretary of State Rex Tillerson cc: Secretary of Defense James Mattis cc: National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster