Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, says
US foreign policy is too dependent on military generals and admirals
and not enough on the State Department.
The Pentagon's top officer said the military cannot continue to
do the bulk of the heavy lifting overseas, and it's time for the
State Department and other agencies to step up.
Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said
Wednesday evening that there are limits to American military power
and diplomatic efforts must be just as important if not more so. But
despite recognition of this, the military has become the default for
American foreign policy.
"It's one thing to be able and willing to serve as emergency
responders, quite another to always have to be the fire chief,"
Mullen said in prepared remarks at Kansas State University.
Time to invest in other departments
Citing a speech delivered by President Obama late last year,
Mullen said it's time to invest in other departments, such as
homeland security, intelligence, and the State Department, whose
budget pales compared to massive Pentagon funding.
"My fear, quite frankly, is that we aren't moving fast enough in
this regard," he said. "US foreign policy is still too dominated by
the military, too dependent upon the generals and admirals who lead
our major overseas commands and not enough on the State Department."
As critical as the admiral's remarks appeared to be, he's not the
first one to make them.
Mullen is reinforcing an appeal that his boss, Defense Secretary
Robert Gates, made when he appeared at the same lecture series at
Kansas State University in 2007. Mr. Gates told the audience that
there are limits to American military power, and that agencies such
as State and USAID must be resourced properly. He highlighted the
lopsidedness of how Congress funds the defense and state
Pentagon budget much larger than State's
This year, for example, the proposed Defense Department budget is
$708 billion, and that does not include all war costs. The State
Department's proposed budget, on the other hand, is approximately
$52 billion and that includes funding for overseas development
efforts conducted by USAID.
One former USAID official agreed with Mullen's premise. He said
part of the problem is that an agency like USAID doesn't have the
bureaucratic instincts to demand more money from Congress. And even
if it did, it lacks the capacity to handle the additional funding to
hire the kind of qualified people with development experience that
the US needs to deploy overseas. …