With the presidential election just days away, it is important to compare the viewpoints and promises of both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump as it applies to the Armed Forces of the United States. In an article in the May 2016 issue of Army Magazine by General Frederick Kroesen, retired Vice Chief of Staff of the Army, he makes the case, “We are now engaged in what may be a generational war with a terrorist complex that is gaining power and influence...We have yet to decide on our own objectives, other than peace.” And then he makes a telling statement: “So far, no candidate for the office of president has exhibited an understanding of both the need for objectives that will settle this war and the development of the forces needed to achieve them, especially the need for allies seeking the same resolution.”
So where do Clinton and Trump stand as it pertains to the military? Since the general’s statement last May, have they developed clear military objectives and the forces needed to achieve them?
Looking at the candidates’ respective websites and examining both their personal statements and the statements of their military advisors, here is what we know (My comments are in parentheses):
First, Mrs. Clinton: On her official website she first states that it is important for the White House and Congress to reach a budgetary agreement and end sequester, which hangs like the sword of Damocles over the military. However, there is this caveat: Clinton contends that both defense and non-defense spending must be addressed equally; one cannot call for an increase in defense spending while also cutting domestic expenditures. The website states that her goal is to “Create a defense budget that reflects good stewardship of taxpayer dollars. As president, Hillary will prioritize defense reform initiatives, curbing runaway cost growth in areas like health care and acquisition...” (Although, this statement is followed immediately by a pledge to take care of veterans, curbing benefits appears to be incompatible with taking care of our veterans since one of the most valuable benefits to both service members and former service members (veterans) is the health care provided for those in the military, retirees, and their families.)
This opening statement is followed by five goals regarding the military.
Donald Trump’s stance regarding the military begins with what he calls “Peace through strength,” which was a prominent theme for President Ronald Reagan. Trump believes the military has been degraded and must be rebuilt. On Trump’s official website, he lists eight priorities for the military:
These are the positions and the goals of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, one of whom will be the next Commander-in-Chief. Civilian control of the military was in the very fiber of our Constitution and our nation’s founding, from the very beginning; it is an important “American” concept. Next Tuesday, Americans will choose not only a President, but the Commander-in-Chief of all our Armed Forces. Your vote matters.
This post is only intended to present the positions of both major candidates for President. The ACLJ does not endorse or oppose candidates for public office.
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