In the Washington Post today, Brent Bozell, the president of the conservative Media Research Center, argues that Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) “may have the Beltway crowd in his corner, but grass-roots conservatives aren’t sold.” Claiming that McCain “is the one who arguably least qualifies as a Reagan conservative,” Bozell suggests ways that the Arizona senator can motivate the conservative movement.
But in making his argument, Bozell falsely claims that it was the Clinton administration, not the Bush administration, that created the current strains on the “military infrastructure“:This is what conservatives call on him to do:
McCain must present a strategy to defeat the threat of radical Islam. He needs to call on the United States to rebuild its military infrastructure, so devastated by the Clinton administration.
So we're blaming Bill Clinton for the damage done to our military because of the Iraq War, now five years in? Let's do some math--the Iraq War is five years old this month. FIVE YEARS! And the military has been under the current Commander in Chief for Seven Years, two Months (or so). Bill Clinton left office in January 2001 and handed over a military that had 8 of its 10 active duty divisions--and virtually ALL of its Reserve and Guard component--ready to go to war and fully equipped and damned near full strength. He handed over Marine MEUs and Aircraft Carrier battlegroups that were trained and ready to deploy because they had been training and deploying and keeping our interests overseas defended admirably. Hundreds of pilots were experienced, having used Iraq as a live fire training range [while enforcing the No-Fly zones] for years. I served during that time, and that was a time when we were throwing criminals and gang members and anyone who didn't shape up out of the military as quickly as the rules allowed. NOW? Now we're keeping all of the broke dick people in, recruiting the criminals, and letting the gang members run wild in family housing units all over the country.
The only deployments that were taking a toll on the military were the rotations of units like the 10th Mountain Division and the 3rd Infantry Division to Kuwait and the Balkans. (I estimate on that, because, as I recall, we had various brigades moving in and out of the Balkans and we had done Operation Desert Fox with some elements of 3rd ID at Camp Doha.)
We still had all of our troops in Germany, although they were involved in some of the operations in the Balkans as well. We had the entire III Corps, ready to go to war. We had everyone else doing what they're supposed to do--training and preparing for any eventuality and any mission.
Clinton didn't "devastate" the military--the military was already drawn down by the decision--made AFTER the Berlin Wall fell but long BEFORE Clinton took office--to cash in THE PEACE DIVIDEND.
You remember the PEACE DIVIDEND, don't you?
Bush laid out the rationale for the Plan in a speech in Aspen, Colorado, on August 2, 1990. He explained that since the danger of global war had substantially receded, the principal threats to American security would emerge in unexpected quarters. To counter those threats, he said, the United States would increasingly base the size and structure of its forces on the need to respond to “regional contingencies” and maintain a peacetime military presence overseas. Meeting that need would require maintaining the capability to quickly deliver American forces to any “corner of the globe,” and that would mean retaining many major weapons systems then under attack in Congress as overly costly and unnecessary, including the “Star Wars” missile-defense program. Despite those massive outlays, Bush insisted that the proposed restructuring would allow the United States to draw down its active forces by 25 percent in the years ahead, the same figure Powell had projected ten months earlier.
That ten division army that we have right now? That "gutted" military that you claim was all Clinton's fault? That "hollow force" we have right now?
Cheney Proposed Cutting F-16 Aircraft. In testimony before the House Armed Services Committee, Cheney said, "If you're going to have a smaller air force, you don't need as many F-16s...The F-16D we basically continue to buy and close it out because we're not going to have as big a force structure and we won't need as many F-16s." According to the Boston Globe, Bush's 1991 defense budget "kill[ed] 81 programs for potential savings of $ 11.9 billion...Major weapons killed include[d]....the Air Force's F-16 airplane." [Cheney testimony, House Armed Services Committee, 2/7/91; Boston Globe, 2/5/91]
Cheney Proposed Cuts to B-2 Program. According to the Boston Globe, in 1990, "Defense Secretary Richard Cheney announced a cutback... of nearly 45 percent in the administration's B-2 Stealth bomber program, from 132 airplanes to 75..." [Boston Globe, 4/27/90]
Cheney Proposed Cutting AH-64 Apaches. In testimony before the Senate Appropriations Committee, Defense Subcommittee, Cheney said, "This is just a list of some of the programs that I've recommended termination: the V-22 Osprey, the F-14D, the Army Helicopter Improvement Program, Phoenix missile, F-15E, the Apache helicopter, the M1 tank, et cetera." In testimony before the House Armed Services Committee, Cheney said, "The Army, as I indicated in my earlier testimony, recommended to me that we keep a robust Apache helicopter program going forward, AH-64...I forced the Army to make choices...So I recommended that we cancel the AH-64 program two years out." [Cheney testimony, Senate Appropriations Committee, Defense Subcommittee, 6/12/90; Cheney Testimony, House Armed Services Committee, 7/13/89, emphasis added]
Cheney Proposed Cutting M-1 Abrams Tanks. In testimony before the Senate Appropriations Committee, Defense Subcommittee, Cheney said, "This is just a list of some of the programs that I've recommended termination: the V-22 Osprey, the F-14D, the Army Helicopter Improvement Program, Phoenix missile, F-15E, the Apache helicopter, the M1 tank, et cetera." The Boston Globe reported on the impact of Cheney's cuts to armored tanks: "The Army's cupboard is left particularly bare. Coming in the wake of last year's killing of the M-1 tank and the Apache helicopter, the death of the M-2 means the Army will soon have virtually no major weapons in production." [Cheney testimony, Senate Appropriations Committee, Defense Subcommittee, 6/12/90; Boston Globe, 2/5/91]
Cheney Proposed Cutting B-52 Bombers. In 1990, Cheney proposed cutting 14 B-52 bombers. Cheney also sought the retirement of two Navy battleships, two nuclear cruisers, and eight nuclear-powered attack submarines. In 1991, Cheney scrapped the Navy's A-12 Stealth attack plane, a fighter that was proclaimed to be a key part of the future of navy aviation in advanced stealth technology. [Newsday, 2/5/91; NY Times, 1/8/91; Boston Globe, 4/27/90; Boston Globe, 1/30/90]
Cheney's Record as Secretary of Defense Includes Cutting Troops and Bases
Cheney Cut Thousands of Active-Duty, Reserve, and Civilian Forces. In January 1990, Cheney banned the hiring of any new civilian personnel in the Defense Department through the end of September, which left more than 65,000 jobs vacant. Under the budget proposed in 1990, the Pentagon would have reduced active military personnel by 38,000; selected reserves would have fallen by 3,000. The budget called for the deactivation of two Army divisions. Long range, the Pentagon planned to reduce its work force by 300,000, including about 200,000 military personnel and 100,000 civilians. In 1991, he called for reduction of 200,000 active and reserve military personnel over two years. In 1992, Cheney called for cutting 500,000 active-duty people, 200,000 reservists, and 200,000 civilians over five years. [Minneapolis Star-Tribune, 2/2/92; Chicago Tribune, 2/20/91; 1990 CQ Almanac, p. 672; Washington Post, 1/13/90; Boston Globe, 1/30/90]
Active-Duty and Reserve Forces Endured Huge Reductions Under Cheney. The LA Times reported in November 1991 that the number of active-duty military personnel had decreased by over 106,000, or 5 percent of the total forces. The National Guard and Reserves had been cut by nearly 38,000, instead of the 105,000 the Bush Administration sought. [LA Times, 11/2/91]
Cheney Proposed Over 70 Base Closures. In 1990, Cheney proposed the closure of 72 domestic military installations and 12 overseas facilities. On April 12, 1991, Cheney proposed to close 31 major domestic military bases. The plan also called for shutting 12 smaller bases and reducing operations at 28 others. He submitted his list of closures to a commission on base closings on April 15, 1991. In 1992, Cheney proposed 70 overseas military base closures, three of which were in Turkey. [Aerospace Daily, 8/17/92; 1991 CQ Almanac, p. 427; Chicago Tribune, 1/30/90]
So, for the Brent Bozell types out there, shut up when you claim Clinton "gutted" the military. The budget was negotiated with Republican Congressmen more interested in cutting ALL spending wherever possible--negotiations that, at one point, shut down the goddamned government.
The current size of our military could have been changed in a heartbeat in 2001--and your President still can't get the right vehicles and gear to enough troops in Iraq.