Retired Army Lt. Gen. Keith Kellogg, national security adviser to Vice President Mike Pence, on Wednesday touted President Donald Trump’s foreign policy accomplishments, including the rebuilding of the U.S. military after nearly a decade of decline under the Obama administration.
Kellogg said in an address during the Republican National Convention that Trump, in his three-and-a-half years, has “reversed the decline of our military and restructured our national security strategy.”
“With historic investment and vision, our military is now better equipped, better resourced, and better manned than any military in the world,” he added.
The U.S. military’s readiness declined dramatically during the Obama administration as deep defense cuts of $1 trillion kicked in. Congress worked to prevent the cuts from being fully implemented, but the Pentagon still took a deep hit and military readiness suffered dramatically.
Kellogg said he has witnessed leadership under Trump, drawing upon his own service:
In 1967, at the age of 22, I volunteered to serve my country in Vietnam. From the jungles of Vietnam to the deserts of Iraq, I have gone where my nation asked. I have borne witness to soldiers’ last moments on earth, their lives spent in the hope and promise of a better future for all Americans.
He also recalled serving in the Pentagon when it was attacked on September 11, 2001:
I lost friends there that day. In the years that followed, I watched my daughter, son, and son-in-law deploy to Afghanistan. I have looked into the eyes of my grandchildren as they said goodbye to their fathers and hugged them one last time.
“I lived service. I understand sacrifice. I know leadership,” he said.
He said he has witnessed every major foreign policy and national security decision by Trump.
“I have been in the room where it happened. I saw only one agenda and one guiding question when tough calls had to be made … ‘is this decision right for America?'” he said.
He said before Trump took office, decades of “failed foreign policy had crippled us.”
He cited “wars without end in sight, creation of failed states like Libya and Syria, a past that allowed a terrorist caliphate to grow, and leadership in Washington that allowed our military to atrophy while we spent trillions of dollars abroad instead of investing at home.”
He said Trump “demolished the terrorist ISIS Caliphate in the Middle East and eliminated its leader, al-Baghdadi, one of the world’s most brutal murderers.”
Kellogg also said Trump took decisive action by ordering a U.S. strike against Iranian terrorist mastermind Qasim Soleimani — a man responsible for the deaths of hundreds of American servicemen in Iraq.
He said that Trump has succeeded in getting NATO allies to invest more in Europe’s defense.
“When our NATO allies failed to meet their commitments as we upheld ours, President Trump demanded parity. NATO members have now increased their contributions over $100 billion this year, and NATO’s Secretary-General credits President Donald J. Trump,” he said.
“President Trump challenged, and continues to challenge, an increasingly provocative and militant China,” he said.
But, he added, Trump “is no hawk.”
“He wisely wields the sword when required, but believes in seeking peace instead of perpetual conflict,” he said.
Kellogg pointed out the peace agreement Trump brokered between the United Arab Emirates and Israel — “the first in the Middle East in over 25 years.”
This week, he said, Afghan negotiators — with help from American officials — will start peace negotiations between the Taliban and the Afghan government to end America’s longest war.
He urged Americans to look at Trump’s record:
Ask yourself, has this President kept his promises to keep us out of needless conflicts and to pursue ending wars without end? Has he defended your interests in renegotiating trade deals that previously hurt Americans and our national security? Has he fulfilled his Commander in Chief role by decisively going after our Nation’s enemies?
You and I know, the answer is yes. The choice is clear. This is the most important election of our lifetimes. The next four years will decide the course of our country for decades to come. I am asking you to stand up and be counted, so we never have to look back and recall what it was once like in America when men and women were free, our families were secure — and we had a president who served the people.