- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 27, 2012

More than 80 retired military officials on Tuesday urged Congress not to cut the nonmilitary foreign policy budget, saying it is of “the utmost importance” that “civilian programs have the resources needed to maintain the hard-fought gains of our military.”

The State Department and other “civilian-led programs are particularly critical at a time when we are asking them to take on greater responsibilities with the military drawdown in Iraq,” the retired officials said in a letter signed by former generals, admirals, commanders and directors from the armed forces and intelligence community.

They also note the “impending transition to a civilian-led mission in Afghanistan.”

Released Tuesday by the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition’s National Security Advisory Council, the letter calls on Congress not to embrace “disproportionate cuts” in funding to what is commonly referred to as the international affairs budget.

The budget proposed last week by Rep. Paul Ryan, Wisconsin Republican, seeks to shave 11 percent, or about $6 billion, from the $54.9 billion allocated for the 2012 international affairs budget.

The Obama administration’s budget calls for a 2 percent uptick in funding for 2013.

The total budget for civilian-based foreign policy programs is a fraction of the more than $550 billion being called for by both the White House and the Ryan proposal for military spending. Both sides are calling for small increases in such spending.

The retired military officials noted that at just 1.4 percent of the total federal budget, the money spent on nonmilitary international programs “represents one of the most cost effective measures we have to confront the many threats we face today.”

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