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Pivotal Power

June 10, 2009
Retired military officers urge support of Obama, Gates defense budget

Thirteen former Generals and Admirals — representing the Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force — today asked Congress to support the 2010 Defense budget that Defense Secretary Robert Gates and President Barack Obama developed. The retired officers “urge members of Congress to support the Obama administration’s efforts to move in a new strategic direction that will better ensure the safety and security of this country.” I couldn’t agree more, as I wrote in this piece.

Dear Member of Congress:

As former commanders in the United States military, each one of us deeply understands what our troops need to defend and protect America’s national security.  The most important imperative is to both ensure that these men and women have the proper equipment they need to protect themselves from harm as well as defend against and defeat our enemies. But it is clear that over the past several decades, the nature of those enemies has changed. The threats against America have undergone a monumental shift, as dangers emanating from traditional Cold War adversaries have given way to challenges from terrorism and other transnational entities. While we must always remain vigilant against the many large-scale conventional challenges that still persist to this day, we must also ensure our military strategy reflects the realities of 21st century. And it is essential our defense budget matches this new reality.

That is why we stand in support of the new direction put forth in the Obama administration’s defense budget.  The budget laid out by Secretary Gates will help bring the military into the 21st century and move us beyond the legacy of the Cold War. We commend the decisions by the Secretary to cut unnecessary and wasteful programs and to emphasize systems that will not only help the United States win the wars it is in but will better prepare it for the wars of the future.

To this end, we urge members of Congress to support the Obama administration’s efforts to move in a new strategic direction that will better ensure the safety and security of this country.  For too long our military’s budget priorities have been beset by an out of date mentality, creating a chasm between what the needs of our military actually were and what Congress actually funded. This budget is an essential course correction, and will bring our military hardware up to date. It will go a long way in ensuring that the men and women who fight on the front lines have the essential training and tools to successfully execute the sworn oath they took to defend and protect this nation.


Brigadier General John Adams USA (Retired)

Rear Admiral Jamie Barnett USNR (Retired)

Lieutenant General John Castellaw USMC (Retired)

Brigadier General Tom Daniels USAF (Retired)

Major General Paul D. Eaton USA (Retired)

Lieutenant General Al Edmonds USAF (Retired)

Lieutenant General Robert Gard, Jr. USA (Retired)

Brigadier General John Johns USA (Retired)

Lieutenant General Donald L. Kerrick USA (Retired)

Brigadier General Samuel L. Kindred USA (Retired)

Rear Admiral Rosanne “Rose” LeVitre USN (Retired)

Brigadier General Earl Simms USA (Retired)

Brigadier General John M. Watkins USA (Retired)

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Nina Hachigian is a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress and the co-author of “The Next American Century: How the U.S. Can Thrive as Other Powers Rise.” She has worked on the staff of the National Security Council in the White House and been a senior political scientist at the RAND Corporation. She specializes in U.S.-China relations and great power relationships, multilateral institutions and U.S. foreign policy.

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