Precision agriculture will play key role in nation’s security, retired general says

Only a small portion of the U.S. population is devoted to the frontline defense of the nation. But members of many other sectors play an important role in keeping the U.S. strong, according to Lt. Gen. John Castellaw, USMC (Retired).

General Castellaw, a native of west Tennessee who is CEO of, talked about how precision agriculture could help the U.S. maintain its leadership role and help feed the more than 9 billion people expected to inhabit the planet by 2050 when he spoke at the Delta AgTech Symposium in Memphis, Tenn.

"As we look at the situation in the world today, there's something we should remember," he said. "That is that the world is not a safer place, that we still have a number of threats out there that seek to do us harm. We need to look at how we approach the security of this great nation of ours."

Castellaw said the issue is about more than active duty military, the people he called "gunfighters" that make up a very small percentage of the U.S. population.

"It's also about developing our economic and food security and all those other elements that make up our national power and ensures our own security. When we look around the world we have threats by individual actors enabled by such things as the Internet and other elements of globalization, non-state actors like ISIS and rogue states such as North Korea that have weapons of mass destruction. It's also potential peer competitors such as China."

When we look at technology and how we use it , he said, we need to think about how it fits into the overall elements of national security. "And certainly when we talk about precision agriculture we need to make sure we increase our capability for meeting the increased requirements for food and clothing around the world."

General Castellaw graduated from the University of Tennessee at Martin in 1972 with a commission in the Marines and a degree in agriculture. He served for 36 years, flying more than two dozen different types of aircraft and serving in hotspots like Sarajevo and East Timor. During the Iraq War, he was chief of staff for the U.S. Central Command.

In 2008, he returned to Tennessee where he operates the family farm, is a teaching fellow at UTM, and on the board of the Bank of Crockett.  Castellaw is the president of the non-profit Crockett Policy Institute and is a senior associate with the Washington based Corvus Group.  Other national security affiliations include membership on the Nuclear Security Working Group, the Climate Security Working Group, and the board of the American Security Project.

For more information, visit  Marine Lt. Gen. Castellaw retires

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