More than 120 retired U.S. military generals and admirals are urging Congress not to cut spending on diplomacy and foreign aid, two government functions that may be targeted in President Donald Trump's first budget proposal.
When he unveils his budget proposal Tuesday before Congress, Trump is expected to call for a $54 billion boost in military spending while offsetting the increase by slashing domestic spending, particularly at the State Department and the Environmental Protection Agency.
In a letter Monday to Republican and Democratic congressional leaders, the retired officers wrote that "elevating and strengthening diplomacy and development alongside defense are critical to keeping America safe."
The former military leaders wrote that experience has taught them that many of the nation's crises cannot be solved by military action alone.
"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."
Some of the most prominent retired U.S. military leaders signed the letter, including General David Petraeus, commander of troops in Afghanistan and Iraq and Navy Admiral James Stavridis, the former supreme allied commander of NATO.
The annual U.S. military budget is about $600 billion. In comparison, the United States spends about $54 billion annually on international initiatives.
Congress is not required to accept Trump's budget proposal and is expected to have hearings on Capitol Hill to explain it.
The letter was coordinated and published Monday online by the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition, a diplomatic and foreign aid advocacy group.