From the Orange County Register in southern California, an article by a career military officer argues that economic engagement and development programs, in addition to diplomacy and the military, are important tools for keeping the United States safe. Michael Hagee, the former commandant of the Marine Corps from 2003-2006, writes:
For more than 38 years I had the honor of serving this nation as an active duty Marine. During this time, I had the pleasure of working with all branches of our military service and with some of the most outstanding young men and women anywhere. We have the finest military in the world because of their dedication, commitment and bravery. This sense of duty is shared by more than 2 million veterans living in California. Men and women on active and reserve duty are willing to put their lives on the line to protect our nation. We owe it to them to ensure we send them in harm’s way only when all other options have failed.
During my time on active duty, I served in conflicts from Vietnam to those in Iraq and Afghanistan. Those experiences taught me that it is not just our servicemen and servicewomen who help keep the peace and our nation safe. As we saw recently in Benghazi, it’s also our diplomats and development experts, quite often in harm’s way, who are working before, during and after the crisis for peace, stability and economic development. These public servants, like our service personnel, are on the frontlines to advance and protect American interests.