Former NORTHCOM, SOUTHCOM commanders urge Trump to back NAFTA

By Tony Bertuca / March 19, 2018 at 3:17 PM

The North American Free Trade Agreement is a "core aspect" of U.S. national security and President Trump should continue to honor it, according to a letter from 10 former chiefs of U.S. Northern and Southern commands.

"Without NAFTA, cooperation with our North American neighbors will be less likely, weakening our ability to confront security challenges," the March 15 letter states. "And in a broader sense, recommitting to NAFTA would reassure Canada and Mexico and also our allies globally that they can continue to depend on U.S. commitments, particularly as China becomes increasingly assertive."

The letter was released by the Americas Society/Council of the Americas and signed by retired Gens. Bantz Craddock, Douglas Fraser, James Hill, Barry McCaffrey, Victor Renuart, Charles Wilhelm, along with retired Adms. William Gortney, Timothy Keating, James Stavridis and James Winnefeld.

"As you negotiate to update NAFTA, we encourage you, as former Commanders of U.S. NORTHERN Command and U.S. SOUTHERN Command, to strengthen U.S. commitment to the agreement itself," the letter states. "Mr. President, NAFTA is far more than a trade agreement -- it is a core aspect of our national security. We respectfully ask you to update and strengthen the agreement on a mutually beneficial basis, while ensuring it remains a part of the U.S. strategic arsenal for many years to come."

Trump recently exempted Canada and Mexico from new tariffs on steel and aluminum, with the caveat that their status would be reviewed after NAFTA is renegotiated.