WASHINGTON – More than 120 retired admirals and generals from US military urged President Donald Trump not to slash spending on diplomacy and development aid, CNN reported Monday.
Retired General David Petraeus, a former CIA director, and retired Admiral James Stavridis, an ex NATO supreme allied commander, are among those who pressed Trump not to make good on his repeated threats to implement major cuts in those areas.
State Department funding is “critical to keeping America safe,” CNN quoted the military brass as saying in their letter to congressional leaders, two cabinet officials and Trump’s national security adviser.
Trump has proposed increasing defense spending by some 54 billion dollars. Officials say he would like to cut a similar amount from the Environmental Protection Agency and State Department.
“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,” the generals wrote, according to CNN.
Earlier, the Pentagon presented the White House with possible new battle plans to defeat the Islamic State group, after Trump demanded top brass find additional ways to destroy the jihadists.
A pillar of Trump’s campaign was to quicken the fight against IS — which despite losing thousands of fighters still controls parts of northern Syria and Iraq — and he berated Barack Obama’s administration for taking too long to do so.
A US-led coalition has been bombing the jihadists in Iraq and Syria since late summer 2014, while also deploying Western commandos to train and advise local forces.
The initial draft of the review is now complete, and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis presented the findings to Trump’s top national security advisors.
The proposals will likely outline the possibility of sending more US troops to the Middle East and could see the Pentagon taking a more aggressive stance in other key areas.
A key question is whether America will arm Syrian Kurdish forces to lead the fight to retake Raqa — a move sure to infuriate ally Turkey, which considers the Kurdish fighters terrorists — or whether the United States should send in more combat troops.