Chairman Emphasizes State Department’s Importance to Defense
The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff emphasized the importance of foreign policy to the military during remarks at the Aspen Security Forum in Aspen, Colorado, last night.
Marine Corps Gen. Joe Dunford also spoke of the need for members of Congress to get to know U.S. service members and the role Arizona Senator John McCain has played on the national stage. Andrea Mitchell, NBC’s chief foreign affairs correspondent, was the moderator for the wide-ranging talk.
The general said that when he was a young Marine, he didn’t have an appreciation for the work of the State Department’s Foreign Service Officers. “I sit here now with a great deal of humility, because there is not actually not one challenge that we confront in the U.S. military that can be solved militarily,” he said.
“They can only be solved within a good framework of foreign policy,” Dunford said. “Whether it is Afghanistan or what’s going on in the Middle East, we can have the greatest military in the world … but if we don’t have clarity in our political objectives, if we haven’t properly resourced the State Department, if our foreign policy and allies aren’t strong, we will never been successful.”
He sees the Defense Department as serving in support of the State Department. “There is a reason the Secretary of State is the first among equals in the cabinet — because [that person] is the architect of our foreign policy and that is what is going to determine our success as a nation,” the chairman said.
U.S. foreign policy is balanced among four areas: diplomacy and politics, economy, military and intelligence. The most important of those four is the political relationship, he said, adding, “that’s the framework in which all of the economic, military and intelligence [activities] take place.”
Closing the Civil-Military Gap
Mitchell noted to Dunford that the number of veterans in Congress has dropped and wondered if that troubles him. While there is a civil-military gap, the chairman acknowledged, he also believes it can be closed. “I think it is important for our political leaders to get to know our men and women in uniform, see what they are doing around the world, visit them in places like Afghanistan and Iraq and Africa and the Middle East, and that’s how you close the gap,” he said.
“What’s most important is they learn to appreciate the extraordinary quality that we have, and they also understand the impact of the decisions we make in Washington and how those decisions affect places like Afghanistan and Iraq,” he said.
McCain an Architect of Foreign Policy
Mitchell also asked about Senator John McCain, the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, who is battling cancer. Dunford noted that he first testified before McCain in 2005 or 2006. “Certainly when I’ve deployed he has been a routine visitor,” the general said. “Every Fourth of July, Chairman McCain has been there [overseas].”
McCain’s knowledge and status are respected throughout the world, Dunford said. “He has such status around the world that he speaks on behalf of our nation when he engages,” the general said. “There is not a world leader that wouldn’t drop what they are doing to see Senator McCain when he goes over with a congressional delegation.”
This is important for the Congress controls the funds and resources necessary for U.S. foreign policy including military operations. “Senator McCain provides a very stabilizing influence when he talks to leaders in Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, Asia and so forth about U.S. foreign policy,” the chairman said. “Over the last decade, he has been one of the architects of U.S. foreign policy.”
[Source: By Jim Garamone/ US DoD -/- Media Relations]
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