Navy SEAL who oversaw bin Laden raid says America's biggest national security issue is the K-12 education system
Retired Adm. William McRaven, a former US Navy SEAL commander and head of US Special Operations Command, says K-12 education is vital to US national security. "Unless we are giving opportunity and a quality education to the young men and women in the United States, then we won't have the right people to be able to make the right decisions about our national security," McRaven said. McRaven said the US needed to develop a "culture of education" within communities, particularly those where residents think they can't afford it or that their children aren't "smart enough." "There is a school out there for every man and woman in the United States — I don't care what your educational capacity is, what you think it is," McRaven said. "There is a school that will help you matriculate to the point of getting a degree." Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.
While some former US military leaders have had offered witty one-liners when asked which national security threat keeps them up at night, one former commander had an unconventional answer: "K-12 education." Retired Adm. William McRaven, a former US Navy SEAL commander and head of US Special Operations Command, said he was "the biggest fan" of the younger generation of Americans and that education in grade school played a broader role in national security. "When I was chancellor, I would have a lot of town hall meetings, or meetings with our alumni, and that question always came up," McRaven, who was chancellor of the University of Texas System, said at the Aspen Ideas Festival on June 29. "And they would always ask ... 'What's your No. 1 national security issue?'" "I think my answer always surprised them," he added. McRaven, who stepped down from overseeing one of the largest US school systems in 2018, said he stood by that thinking.
"It was because I recognized that unless we are giving opportunity and a quality education to the young men and women in the United States, then we won't have the right people to be able to make the right decisions about our national security," McRaven said. "They won't have an understanding of different cultures. They won't have an understand of different ideas. They won't be critical thinkers." "So we have got to have an education system within the United States that really does teach and educate young men and women to think critically, to look outside their kind of small microcosm because if we don't develop those great folks, then our national security in the long run may be in jeopardy," McRaven added. McRaven recommended the US develop a "culture of education" within communities, particular those where residents believe they cannot afford an education or where they think their children aren't "smart enough." "There is a school out there for every man and woman in the United States — I don't care what your educational capacity is, what you think it is," McRaven said. "There is a school that will help you matriculate to the point of getting a degree." McRaven held numerous leadership positions within the special-operations community during his 37 years in the Navy, including overseeing the successful military raid that killed al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden in 2011. His remarks echo those of former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who in 2013 said the "crisis in K-12 education is our greatest national security crisis today." As a member of a Council on Foreign Relations education task force in 2012, Rice helped develop a report that found "educational failure puts the United States' future economic prosperity, global position, and physical safety at risk." "Human capital will determine power in the current century, and the failure to produce that capital will undermine America's security," the report said. "Large, undereducated swaths of the population damage the ability of the United States to physically defend itself, protect its secure information, conduct diplomacy, and grow its economy."SEE ALSO: Black US Army cadets say they were called the N-word and 'shunned' for reporting discrimination at West Point Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: A Navy SEAL commander explains how he learned to never give up
More like this (3)
Numerous top G.O.P. officials have said publicly or privately that they will not be backing the...Numerous top G.O.P. officials have said publicly or privately that they will not be backing the president’s re-election. Here’s a look at where they stand.
One striking image shows the Marine Corps generals who left the Trump administration, after the president praised their service
President Donald Trump boasted that his administration was staffed with notable members of the US armed...President Donald Trump boasted that his administration was staffed with notable members of the US armed forces. Many of those senior military officials have since left his administration. Some of these officials have been outspoken in their opposition to Trump's policies, like former chief of staff John Kelly, who called one of Trump's decisions "exactly the wrong thing to do." Before becoming president, Donald Trump described his future cabinet the same way he characterized his business acumen: "I'm going to surround myself only with the best and most serious people," he said to The Washington Post in 2015, two years before his inauguration. "We want top of the line professionals." Shortly after being sworn in, Trump boasted that his generals "were going to keep us so safe." But during his presidency, Trump's generals have slowly fell by the wayside, many of them resigning because their views were not "aligned" with his. The tepid resignation letters from these high-profile military officials evolved into a more pronounced denunciation, with some being outspoken in their opposition against Trump's policies. Many of these former officials are Marines who served with distinction throughout the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. The photo above, taken in 2013, marked the first time six four-star Marines Corps generals were actively serving in the Marine Corps. Jim Mattis, the Secretary of Defense, announced his resignation in December 2018. His departure was accelerated after Trump announced his acting replacement, Patrick Shanahan, was set to take over. Mattis was a four-star general who once led the US Central Command and was celebrated as a top choice to lead the US military. He cited disagreements with Trump's policies as the reason for his decision to resign from the Defense Department. Mattis later went on to poke fun at Trump in a light-hearted speech: "I earned my spurs on the battlefield ... And Donald Trump earned his spurs in a letter from a doctor." On June 3, 2020, Mattis penned an opinion column published in The Atlantic, making it clear he was not pleased with the Trump administration. His op-ed comes nearly a week after protests were held around the country following the death of George Floyd, and Trump's demand for state governor's to "dominate" the streets: "Donald Trump is the first president in my lifetime who does not try to unite the American people — does not even pretend to try. Instead he tries to divide us. We are witnessing the consequences of three years of this deliberate effort." John Kelly, the former White House chief of staff, was a four-star Marine Corps general who once led the US Southern Command. He served as secretary of the Department of Homeland Security before being selected by Trump to regulate his day-to-day schedule. Kelly had been expected to bring order to a chaotic West Wing but faced headwinds, at times clashing with Trump. Kelly went on to describe Trump's intervention in a military court proceeding as "exactly the wrong thing to do." Joseph Dunford, the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, previously served as the commandant of the Marine Corps and the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan. His term as the top commander of the US military ended September. Trump selected US Army chief of staff Gen. Mark Milley as his replacement. In August, Dunford said the military was experiencing a "politically turbulent time" during his tenure, but added that he "will not now, nor will I when I take off the uniform, make judgments about the president of the United States or the commander in chief." Both of Dunford's predecessors, US Army Gen. Martin Dempsey and US Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, have either outright criticized Trump or indicated disagreements with his policy. On June 2, 2020, an op-ed titled, "I Cannot Remain Silent" was published by Mullen. In it, he wrote, "I have to date been reticent to speak out on issues surrounding President Trump's leadership, but we are at an inflection point, and the events of the past few weeks have made it impossible to remain silent." John Allen, the former commander of the US-led coalition in Afghanistan, did not serve in the Trump administration. Instead, he was an outspoken critic of Trump throughout his campaign and presidency. During a speech at the Democratic National Convention, in 2016, Allen endorsed Hillary Clinton and likened Trump's presidency to a "business transaction" that conducts "illegal activities." Trump fired back at Allen through a tweet and said his fight against ISIS "failed badly." In addition to the Marines who left the Trump administration, a three-star Army general, H.R. McMaster, was fired as Trump's national-security adviser in 2018. His tenure was marked by numerous reports of disagreements with Trump, who once described him as "a man of tremendous talent and tremendous experience." McMaster replaced another US Army three-star general as national-security adviser, Gen. Michael Flynn, who was fired after it was discovered he lied to the FBI and senior White House officials about his communications with Russian officials. A senior official, Navy Secretary Richard Spencer, was also fired after his apparent disagreement with Trump. Spencer, who was a Marine Corps pilot in the 1970s, was forced to resign after Trump barred the Navy SEALs from a review of a SEAL tried for war crimes. Trump overturned a decision to demote Navy SEAL Edward Gallagher, who was convicted of posing with the corpse of a dead detainee. The lesser charge was one of seven total charges against Gallagher, including premeditated murder of an ISIS detainee. After Gallagher was acquitted of the most serious charges, the head of the Navy SEALs decided to move forward with a review of whether Gallagher's actions were in keeping with SEAL standards. Spencer supported the review. Trump blocked it and Spencer was forced out. The Navy SEAL admiral who ordered it also is resigning. "I don't think he really understands the full definition of a warfighter," Spencer described Trump in a CBS News interview. "A warfighter is a profession of arms. And a profession of arms has standards that they have to be held to, and they hold themselves to." "What message does that send to the troops," Spencer added. "That you can get away with things. We have to have good order and discipline."SEE ALSO: 'I would trust Alex with my life': Trump's decision to boot Lt. Col. Vindman was 'designed to humiliate,' his former Army commander says Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: Why thoroughbred horse semen is the world's most expensive liquid
'Lay down your arms, uphold your oath': Former military leaders and lawmakers resoundingly blast Trump's idea of deploying US troops on American streets
President Donald Trump's message of using federalized troops to quell the George Floyd protests caught the...President Donald Trump's message of using federalized troops to quell the George Floyd protests caught the ire of congressional lawmakers with national security experience and retired senior military officials. The Insurrection Act was last invoked during the Los Angeles riots in 1992. Previous presidents were explicitly asked by state leaders for federal military aid. "America is not a battleground. Our fellow citizens are not the enemy," retired US Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, a former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said on Twitter. "I am less confident in the soundness of the orders they will be given by this commander in chief, and I am not convinced that the conditions on our streets, as bad as they are, have risen to the level that justifies a heavy reliance on military troops," retired US Navy Adm. Mike Mullen said in an opinion column. Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories. President Donald Trump's urging of state leaders to deploy their National Guard assets to "dominate the streets" amid the nationwide protests caught the ire of congressional lawmakers with national security experience and retired senior military officials. Trump on Monday explicitly urged governors to utilize their National Guard to end the "riots and lawlessness that has spread throughout our country," or else be faced with possibility of having federal US military forces deployed in their states. Trump has floated the 213-year-old Insurrection Act, which allows him, through an executive order, to deploy US forces inside the country to suppress an insurrection and to facilitate the execution of existing laws. The Insurrection Act was last invoked during the Los Angeles riots in 1992, when riots and looting erupted in the wake of the acquittal of four police officers involved in the Rodney King beating. "If the city or state refuses to take the actions that are necessary to defend the life and property of their residence, then I will deploy the United States military and quickly solve the problem for them," Trump said in a speech at the Rose Garden. There have been amendments to expand the act following the urgent need for federal aid — after natural disasters like Hurricane Katrina or to thwart potential terrorist attacks. The commander-in-chief does have the express authority to use federalized forces within US borders, but historical precedent has shown that state leaders have consented to such deployments. During the Los Angeles riots for instance, California Gov. Pete Wilson urged President George H.W. Bush for aid and to declare the county a national disaster area. Some state officials have shunned Trump's suggestion and were even reluctant to activate their own National Guard forces in the state. Gov. Kate Brown activated 50 unarmed Oregon National Guardsmen on Monday as a "support function only" service to law enforcement operations "behind the scenes." "Our goal, and the goal of the overwhelming number of protesters should be to reduce violence," Brown said Monday afternoon. "You don't defuse violence by putting soldiers on our streets. Having soldiers on the streets across America is exactly what President Trump wants. He's made that very clear on a call this morning." Military veterans in Congress and former senior defense officials have widely scrutinized Trump's idea of deploying federal troops. Meanwhile, a senior official on Tuesday also said the Pentagon would "like all of this to stay a National Guard response," according to Breaking Defense. "America's military, our sons and daughters, will place themselves at risk to protect their fellow citizens," retired US Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, a former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said on Twitter. "Their job is unimaginably hard overseas; harder at home. Respect them, for they respect you. America is not a battleground. Our fellow citizens are not the enemy." Retired US Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, another former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said he was "sickened" by the presence of the National Guard outside St. John's Church during Trump's controversial photo session on Monday. "I remain confident in the professionalism of our men and women in uniform," Mullen wrote in an opinion column titled, "I Cannot Remain Silent." "They will serve with skill and with compassion. They will obey lawful orders. But I am less confident in the soundness of the orders they will be given by this commander in chief, and I am not convinced that the conditions on our streets, as bad as they are, have risen to the level that justifies a heavy reliance on military troops." "Certainly, we have not crossed the threshold that would make it appropriate to invoke the provisions of the Insurrection Act," Mullen wrote. Democratic Rep. Seth Moulton of Massachusetts, a retired Marine Corps infantry officer who served multiple deployments to Iraq, said Trump "has made it clear that the fight for these Constitutional principles is a fight against himself." "We must therefore, with every ounce of conviction, every commitment to peace, and every glimmer of hope, join in lawful protest to overcome his tyranny," Moulton said. "And if he chooses to abuse the military as a tyrant would do —to stifle dissent, suppress freedom, and cement inequality — then I call on all our proud young men and women in uniform, as a veteran and a patriot, to lay down your arms, uphold your oath, and join this new march for freedom." "Be on the right side of history: the side of patriots, of our Constitution, of our flag, and of our freedom," he added. Democratic Sen. Tammy Duckworth of Illinois, a Purple Heart recipient and a retired US Army helicopter pilot, described Trump as a "five-time draft dodging coward who is more interested in looking like a leader than actually being one." "We cannot allow any Commander in Chief to use our active-duty service members to silence our neighbors. To drive yet another wedge between Americans," Duckworth said in a statement. Democratic Rep. Adam Smith of Washington, the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, said in a statement that "the domestic deployment of our armed services is an incredibly serious undertaking that should not be taken lightly." "I urge President Trump to reverse course and use the full weight of the presidency to calm tensions across the country, not escalate them," Smith added. "It simply doesn't have to be this way." Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, proposed an amendment in the next year's National Defense Authorization Act budget that would prevent military troops from responding to peaceful protests. "The President is trying to turn the American military against American citizens who are peacefully protesting on domestic soil, which they have every right to do. I'm not going to stand for it," Kaine said in a statement. " "I can tell you: this is not what the United States military is for," Kaine added. "I never thought we would have to use the NDAA to make clear that the US military shouldn't be used as an agent of force against American citizens who are lawfully assembling. I thought that would seem obvious to everyone." Republican lawmakers have widely dodged Trump's suggestion of using federalized troops in their state and instead blamed the protesters who "engaged in violence." "Now is the time for strong leadership," Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas said to Fox News during an interview on Tuesday. "Rioting should not be tolerated. It cannot be allowed and we need strong leadership from the president, from the attorney general, from governors, from mayors, from police chiefs." Meanwhile, Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas said his state did not require federal aid. "We will not be asking the United States military to come into the state of Texas because we know that Texans can take care of Texans," he said during a press conference.Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: Pathologists debunk 13 coronavirus myths