Only U.S. commanders should lead U.S. troops, Perry says in San Antonio

Posted Monday, Aug. 29, 2011  comments  Print Reprints

Perry in Fort Worth today

Gov. Rick Perry is scheduled to appear at a campaign fundraiser at noon at the City Club. Philanthropists Lee and Ramona Bass and John and Anne Marion are among the hosts..

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SAN ANTONIO -- Republican presidential hopeful Gov. Rick Perry discussed foreign policy Monday, telling the nation's oldest major veterans organization that U.S. forces must be led by American commanders rather than "multilateral debating societies."

Addressing the Veterans of Foreign Wars' annual convention in San Antonio, Perry urged the United States to renew its commitment "to taking the fight to the enemy before they strike at home" as the 10th anniversary of 9-11 approaches.

He drew sustained applause from the hundreds of veterans in a cavernous, concrete-floored convention hall when he said no one but U.S. brass should lead American troops in missions abroad.

"It's not our interest to go it alone. We respect our allies, and we must always seek to engage them in military missions. But at the same time, we must be willing to act when it is time to act. We cannot concede the moral authority of our nation to multilateral debating societies, and when our interests are threatened American soldiers should be led by American commanders."

Perry did not elaborate on what kinds of world bodies he was referring to, but the Obama administration has backed NATO-led airstrikes in Libya.

The Libya operation is being run by a Canadian general from a NATO headquarters in Italy, but an American officer is and always has been the top NATO commander.

The war in Afghanistan is also led by NATO, though overseeing it on a day-to-day basis is a U.S. Marine general who answers to the NATO commander and to a separate U.S. chain of command.

Perry also said the U.S. should avoid a foreign policy of "military adventurism."

"We should only risk shedding American blood and spending American treasure when our vital interests are threatened, and we should always look to build coalitions among the nations," Perry said.

He was invited to speak on behalf of the convention's host state before he formally entered the presidential race Aug. 13.

Later Monday at a campaign appearance in Tulsa, Perry said there would be no need for a stimulus program if he were president because his economic plan would "get America working again."

Perry said that the nation's "entrepreneurial spirit" would create jobs and that his tax policies would allow Americans to keep more of what they earned.

"No. 1 is don't spend all the money; you can figure out what that means," Perry said at the Tulsa Press Club.

Perry said his tax system would be "as light on the job creators" as possible and still deliver essential services.

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