Hillary is the Trusted Leader America Needs

By Lt. General John Castellaw, USMC (ret.)

America seems mired in a perpetual morass where the words of war are used to describe the competitors in political campaigns. The “take no prisoners” mindset pervades the rhetoric and reduces many political exchanges to mudslinging forays. I would argue that we should forego the name calling and instead be concerned with the real threats facing America. In this Presidential campaign, the debate should be about who can we trust to lead our Nation’s defense and the choice to me is clear — the best leader for the job is Hillary Clinton.

The world continues to be a complex and dangerous place as America faces the full spectrum of threats ranging from independent actors enabled by advanced technology, to rogue states acquiring nuclear weapons, to functioning nation states aspiring to regional and global hegemony. We have only to look at today’s news to see this embodied in the chaos in the Mideast, the faceoff with Russia, and the increasing friction with China. And our first line of defense remains the world’s premier military: our men and women in uniform who deserve a steady, thoughtful hand at the helm.

To support those men and women we need a competent President. We need a leader with the background and experience to work with Congress to craft a coherent national security strategy bringing to bear all the elements of our Country’s power — military, diplomatic, economic, cultural, and educational. We need a president who will lead the fight to resource the strategy, and who supports those charged with carrying it out. We should realize that we are in a generations-long war and prepare accordingly. This requires the ability of a President to unite not divide when making hard choices. That is not Donald Trump.

For most of my career I flew the CH-46 Sea Knight, a Vietnam-era helicopter that went through so many overhauls in 50 years of service that little remains of the original aircraft. It was cheap and durable. Its replacement, the V-22 is more survivable, goes faster, farther, higher, and has more gadgets; our Marines deserve the best; but the best costs more. And it’s not just about airplanes, since 2000, it costs about 5.5 times more to equip the individual infantryman with night vision devices, personal armor, and communication devices and 3.2 times more to equip a full infantry battalion. Overseeing equipping our military is not like hosting a reality TV show.

People cost more as well. Military pay has risen at an average of 3.2% per year every year since 2000, and expenditures for health care have more than doubled in the same timeframe. Today, spending to pay service personnel, support families, provide health care, and retirement pensions constitutes over 25% of the base Defense Budget. Providing pay and benefits commensurate with service and risk will be required to attract the top quality personnel needed for today’s advanced weapons technology and heightened military challenges. We need Hillary Clinton, a strong leader who understands what it is like to send real people to war while taking care of their families at home.

Defending America is going to take thoughtful, bipartisan leadership to get the right balance of “soft” and “hard” power to keep America safe. This is hard work. With a sharp mind, honed by experience, and strong leadership skills, Hillary Clinton is the person we can trust to make the right decisions.

Lt. Gen. John Castellaw, USMC (Retired) lives and works in Crockett County, Tennessee on his family farm.