Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates said that comments by the president about focusing more on the US and cuts to the defense budget “send[s] the signal that the US is pulling back,” which he believes is “a concern” in an interview broadcast on Monday’s “Kelly File” on the Fox News Channel.
Most of Gates’ interview focused on his push, along with Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, to encourage businesses to hire more veterans, which Schultz argued was “good business.” He additionally expressed his desire to start “a national conversation and really elevate the narrative that we must have a much deeper level of respect for veterans.”
“Withdrawing from two wars, neither of which ended in a clear-cut victory was always going to be tricky business to avoid giving the impression that we weren’t withdrawing more broadly. And the more the president talks about focusing on nation building at home and on coming home, and the more that he and the Congress continue to cut the defense budget, unfortunately it does send the signal that the US is pulling back. So, i think it is a concern” Gates stated.
He added that the additional troops sent to Iraq “are a reflection of the challenge that we face, and the challenge in retraining some of the Iraqi forces to make them effective. I think it is important to underscore, that I think, most Americans agree with the president. We don’t want to re-fight the Iraq War. I think describing a goal of destroying ISIS may be ambitious. We’ve been trying to destroy al Qaeda for 13 years and have not managed that, but i think we significantly can degrade them, push them out of Iraq.”
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