Gen. John Castellaw discusses U.S. role in the world, impact on TN

Story by Richard Parker

CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. – This morning (Oct. 18), the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition and Representative Joe Pitts brought together nearly 100 veterans and prominent Tennesseans for a discussion with General John Castellaw, USMC (Ret.), on America’s role in the world.

General Castellaw spoke extensively of his experience in the Marine Corps and the importance of American engagement abroad with a “smart power” foreign policy approach, in which the U.S. uses its tools of diplomacy and global development, along with defense to keep our nation safe. Recalling his time serving in East Timor and as the Chief of Staff for U.S. Central Command at the height of the Iraq War, he noted that civilian resources are essential to our national and economic security.

Speaking about his time serving in the African nation of Djibouti, Castellaw spoke of how effective U.S. development programs can be in combating terrorism. He said, “Sometimes the best thing we can do is send well diggers and veterinarians”, meaning that investing in things such as economic growth and development can produce stability and opportunity as a means of fighting the rising tide of extremism in developing nations.

U.S. development and diplomatic programs account for just 1% of the federal budget, but are more critical than ever given the global challenges we face in our world today. These tools can stabilize hot spots around the world and prevent the need for putting U.S. boots on the ground. As former Defense Secretary Bob Gates has said, “Development is a lot cheaper than sending soldiers.”

The U.S. Global Leadership Coalition is “a broad-based influential network of 400 businesses and NGOs; national security and foreign policy experts; and business, faith-based, academic and community leaders in all 50 states who support a smart power approach of elevating diplomacy and development, alongside defense, in order to build a better, safer world.”

In addition to General Castellaw, the event featured Minority Leader of the Tennessee House of Representatives, Craig Fitzhugh, and State Representative Joe Pitts. Pitts is also a member of the USGLC’s Tennessee advisory committee.

Castellaw served in the Marines for 36 years, holding several operational commands and flying more than two dozen different aircraft. He has seen our civilian and military tools in action throughout his entire career and since his retirement in 2008, General Castellaw has remained actively engaged on these issues. He sits on the USGLC’s National Security Advisory Council, a coalition of nearly 150 retired three- and four-star generals and flag officers committed to strengthening America’s national security strategy with the increased use of our non-military tools.

A question and answer session followed General Castellaw’s remarks, moderated by Representative Pitts.

Others in attendance included representatives from local veterans groups, such as the Vietnam Veterans of America, the Military Order of the Purple Heart and the Patriot Fund. The Clarksville Mayor Kim McMillan, Montgomery County Mayor Carolyn Bowers, and the Speaker Pro Tempore of the Tennessee House of Representatives, Curtis Johnson also attended.

For more information on smart power, you can view the USGLC’s Veterans for Smart Power video.