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Indiana business, political and community leaders gather for discussion on national security

INDIANAPOLIS – The U.S. Global Leadership Coalition hosted several hundred business, political and community leaders in downtown Indianapolis Monday, prompting a panel discussion on the U.S. role in global affairs and the proposed Trump administration cuts to the U.S. State Department and U.S. Agency for International Development.

“The proposed cuts, we have grave concerns,” Liz Schrayer said, USGLC president and CEO.

Former Indiana Congressman Lee Hamilton helped kick off the panel, who remains a member of the President’s Homeland Security Advisory Council.

Sen. Todd Young (R-Ind.) served as event’s keynote speaker, followed by a panel discussion with Land O’Lakes Senior Vice President John Ellenberger and Lee Feinstein, a former U.S. Ambassador and current dean of the School of Global and International Affairs at Indiana University.

“Undoubtedly our federal government is responsible to the American people, to our own security and our own prosperity,” Young said. “And that’s been emphasized a lot by our nation’s leaders in recent months and years. There’s also no doubt we should look to our foreign partners to contribute, and I would say contribute more as the U.S. cannot help everyone. But we should not use these realities as an excuse to avoid leading, engaging and helping where we can. That would be neglecting a moral imperative, and it would be short-sighted.”

The panel underscored what it described as serious national security implications with the president’s proposed cuts.

“We’re getting larger crowds than we’ve ever had,” Schrayer said. “We’re getting more interest from members of Congress, from both Democrats and Republicans that want to have these platforms. They are committed to development and diplomacy. They are committed to the State Department and USAID funding.”

The panel also spent considerable time discussing the war in Afghanistan, days after President Trump outlined the administration’s new strategy, which the president explicitly said would not include nation building.

Panel member shifted the tone elsewhere.

“Of course military force is essential to advancing our interests, but just as the senator said, it’s only part of the picture,” Feinstein said.

Young, a former Marine and member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, referenced the recent death of Army Sgt. Jonathon Hunter from Columbus as the need for increased partnerships between the federal government, private sector and nonprofits when developing war strategy.

“We don’t want to continue sending men and women back into areas that have been won through great loss of our finest men and women in uniform,” Young said. “So if we’re going to avoid that, we need to consolidate those gains by ensuring we invest in development, roads, bridges, water treatment systems, education and so forth and that our military efforts are always done in furtherance of diplomatic ends.”

Young didn’t take questions after Monday’s event to better explain his position on the president’s new strategy.