Survey Of Active, Retired Military Officials Highlights Attitudes About Foreign Aid

Almost “90 percent of active and retired military officers say diplomacy and development” initiatives can play a helpful role in reaching U.S. national security goals and that relying on only a strong military presence is not enough, according to a recent poll from the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition (USGLC), reports.

The poll included responses from 606 active duty and retired officers (9/27). It was “conducted by the bipartisan polling team of Geoff Garin from Peter D. Hart Research Associates (D) and Bill McInturff from Public Opinion Strategies (R)” and was “released as part of the USGLC’s national conference,” a press release from the organization states (9/27). 

According to the results, 83 percent of the officers “cited the importance of non-military programs, like food assistance and health, education and economic-based development plans, as ‘fairly important’ or ‘very important’ in ‘achieving the country’s national security objectives,'” The Atlantic writes. “Fifty-nine percent said that increasing funding for non-military programs would help national security and military objectives, and another 59 percent say a decrease in funding would hurt our long-run security goals” (Weingarten, 10/3).

Also, 92 percent of the survey respondents “said they somewhat or strongly agree with the idea that in situations like the hurricane in Haiti, the military can act as first responders but post-catastrophe humanitarian operations should be handed over to civilian authorities as soon as possible,” notes (9/27).

The poll shows that attitudes are changing within the military, said the RAND Corporation’s James Dobbins. “Now, throughout the armed forces, there’s a more widespread understanding of information that once only experts understood,” said Dobbins, who was a special diplomatic envoy under former presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. “While military deployment can provide opportunities for change in conflict states, ‘the changes that make the deployment worthwhile are those that are brought about by non-military means, by people by whose expertise lies outside the military,'” he continued.

Dobbins said this call from the “constituency of the defense appropriations group” could add some heft to funding requests from USAID and the State Department, which The Atlantic writes often gets turned down “unlike the Pentagon.” Andrew Exum, a fellow at the Center for a New American Security and a veteran, “doubts that the poll will have a tangible effect on congressional appropriations” (10/3). 

A memo (.pdf) with some highlights of the results is available here (9/22).

QDDR To Be Released Soon, USAID Administrator Says

In an interview with Foreign Policy’s blog “The Cable” USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah said the State Department’s Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review (QDDR) will be released to the public “soon.”

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton “said 30 to 60 days, but well inside 30 is my guess,” Shah said. According to Shah, individual working groups are now in the process of revising portions of what will hopefully be the final version of the review. “We’ve sat down and we’ve made decisions across a range of issues, including how to elevate development, include some modern diplomacy aspects, including procurement and human resource reforms, and including how we do complex crisis response,” Shah said. “It’s back in the hands of those writing it up.”

The QDDR will include mentions of recent changes at USAID, including its new policy and budget offices (Rogin, 10/4).

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