December 09, 2019

Duckworth at Reagan National Defense Forum: US Leadership Requires Strong Diplomacy and Economic Engagement, Not Only Military Power


[SIMI VALLEY, CA] – Today, on the anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack, combat Veteran and U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) spoke about multiple components of America’s leadership on the global stage, highlighting the need for strategic diplomacy and economic engagement in addition to a strong military, as part of a panel discussion moderated by ABC News’ Jonathan Karl during the 2019 Reagan National Defense Forum in California. Duckworth was joined by Karl Rove, Former Deputy Chief of Staff to President George W. Bush, Congresswoman Liz Cheney and Bill M. Brown, President and CEO of L3 Harris Technologies. During their discussion, the panelists reviewed the results of the Reagan National Defense Survey, which explores the American public’s views on defense, national security and foreign policy issues. You can watch the video from the event here.

We can’t be engaged on a global stage with just the military. Military’s job is to kill our enemies, it’s not nation-building,” said Duckworth. “We need the State Department and Foreign Service Officers on the ground every single day to do that. Yet, under this President, we’ve abandoned our American presence all over the world. We cannot keep ceding the field to our enemies – whether it’s China or Russia, which is what’s happening now – as the administration guts and neglects the State Department and our global economic engagement. That’s not America first and that’s not how we lead on the global stage.”

During the panel, Duckworth also warned against politicization of the military and the impact it could have on our servicemembers and bipartisan support for the institutions. Last week, Duckworth penned an op-ed about how Donald Trump’s recent actions in regards to the Navy’s review of Chief Petty Officer Edward Gallagher are undermining the “good order and discipline” that our Armed Forces have relied on for centuries. The RNDF is a bipartisan annual event that brings together key stakeholders and national security experts to discuss our national defense policies and brainstorm policies that could strengthen our country and military.

Senator Duckworth is an Iraq War Veteran, Purple Heart recipient and former Assistant Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs. She was among the first Army women to fly combat missions during Operation Iraqi Freedom. On November 12, 2004, her helicopter was hit by an RPG and Duckworth lost her legs and partial use of her right arm. Duckworth served in the Reserve Forces for 23 years before retiring from military service in 2014 at the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.