Opinion
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (2nd L) speaks with Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) Foreign Minister Raymond Tshibanda (2nd R), alongside U.S. Special Envoy for the Great Lakes Region of Africa and the DRC Russ Feingold (L) and DRC Ambassador to the U.S. Faida Mitifu (R), prior to boarding his airplane and departing from N U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (2nd L) speaks with Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) Foreign Minister Raymond Tshibanda (2nd R), alongside U.S. Special Envoy for the Great Lakes Region of Africa and the DRC Russ Feingold (L) and DRC Ambassador to the U.S. Faida Mitifu (R), prior to boarding his airplane and departing from N'djili Airport in Kinshasa May 4, 2014. REUTERS/Saul Loeb/Pool  

There’s More To National Security Than Meets The Eye

Photo of Scott Rutter and Robert Wells
Scott Rutter and Robert Wells
President, Valor Network; Senior Advisor, DC International Advisory
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      Scott Rutter and Robert Wells

      U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel Scott E. Rutter's unit assaulted the Iraqi Special Republican Guard and secured the Baghdad International Airport in Operation Iraqi Freedom. For this daring maneuver, his unit was broadly recognized and LTC Rutter was decorated with the Silver Star for his brilliant and deadly action.

      LTC Rutter retired from the US Army after serving over 20 years in Air Assault, Light and Mechanized assignments in the Desert, the Pacific, and in the Continental United States. He served several years overseas and has delployed operationally to Saudi Arabia, Korea, Kuwait, and Iraq. Scott also served as a Senior Intelligency Officer with the Defense Intelligence Agency.

      During Operation Desert Storm, then CPT Rutter commanded C Company, 2nd Battalion, 16th Infantry, 'Rangers' in the 1st Infantry Division and was decorated with the Bronze Star for Valor in 1991. During Operation Iraqi Freedom, LTC Rutter commanded the 2nd Battalion, 7th Infantry 'Cottonbalers' in the 3rd Infantry Division and made the initial assault into Iraq all the way to Baghdad as part of the 'Tip of the Spear.'

      As a much sought-after speaker, businessman, established writer, and experienced media analyst, his mission now is to champion the cause of our military and Veterans. LTC Rutter serves as the President of the Valor Network and Valor Tactics. LTC Rutter experienced first hand the human impact of war. The Valor Network represents a continuing effort to harness the skills in the private sector to improve the strength, conditions and outcomes for our Veterans, Servicemembers and their Families.

      He has also served as the President of the 7th Infantry Regiment Association, Board Member for TAPS (Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors) as well as organized many Memorial Day, Veterans Day and military events. LTC Rutter donates much of his time and energy to speaking at many organizations and universities to help raise awareness about the issues facing our Service members and Veterans.

      Bob Wells is a Senior Advisor to DC International Advisory providing U.S. national security. He has White House and National Security Council experience in the Bush 43 and Clinton Administrations, and was Special Advisor to Vice President Dick Cheney for national security (Defense/Africa/Western Hemisphere). He is a retired U.S. Navy Captain, having completed a distinguished 30-year naval service career in 2007 which included two ship commands, leader of the AEGIS cruiser USS Lake Champlain (CG-57) during Operation Enduring Freedom in the aftermath of 911 during U.S. Fifth Fleet combat operations; and the guided missile frigate USS Lewis B. Puller (FFG-23). He was awarded 20 service medals, including-two Defense Superior Service medals and two Legions of Merit.

As another round of political battles over the budget begins on Capitol Hill, we would be wise to not forget we still live in a dangerous world — one in which we do not have the luxury to be a passive participant.

While we need to get our fiscal house in order, we cannot ignore the significant global challenges we face to our security and economy and to our many friends and allies around the world that count on credible American leadership.

Just as Washington gets more complicated every year, so does our world. No longer are our enemies nations and states, but international terrorism, transnational criminal organizations, poverty, pandemic disease, natural disasters, and financial uncertainty.

This dynamic cross-section of challenges to stability and human dignity requires a new way of doing business, one that uses all the foreign policy tools available to us, both civilian and military.

This foreign policy approach for our country is what is known as a “smart power” one, which blends our development and diplomatic programs, with defense. Taking this more comprehensive approach helps us ferret out the root causes of instability in the world and the prevention of potential conflicts-ultimately benefitting our own security and economic prosperity at home.

From our own military service around the world in hot spots like Iraq and the Gulf, as well as working in some of the highest national security echelons of our government, we have seen firsthand how effective our development and diplomacy programs have been when working alongside our military to stabilize conflict, and thereby hope to avoid the need for boots on the ground. Former Defense Secretary Bob Gates is a great champion for this approach, having said “development is a lot cheaper than sending soldiers.”

Strengthening America’s global leadership and engagement not only protects our national security, but advances our economic interests. As the world becomes ever more interconnected, we know that 95 percent of the world’s consumers live outside the United States. And where are the biggest growth markets in the world today? Most are surprised to learn they are in the developing world, the destination for over half of U.S. exports.

When we use our international programs to engage the rest of the world, we see effective results. South Korea is a great example. Once an aid recipient, South Korea is now an aid donor with the world’s 13th largest economy and a critical national security partner in Southeast Asia. South Korea is our seventh largest trading partner as well.

Another example is the Republic of Liberia in Africa. Following years of civil war, our assistance to Liberia is helping that nation rise from the ashes of civil strife, assisting them in holding their first free and fair election in years. When we engage with countries around the world on these initiatives, it’s not just the right thing to do, but the smart thing to do as well.

So as the Senate takes up the NDAA, it is important they remember the benefits of our global engagement abroad, including the International Affairs Budget, administered by the State Department. These programs are only about one percent of the total federal budget, but provide a huge return on investment for the American taxpayer in our national and economic security. If we don’t remain engaged, our ability to defend our national interests around the world will be diminished.