In the closing weeks of the 2000 presidential race, the Bush campaign
announced that if they win the election, Bush would work toward redeploying
ground forces from their peacekeeping mission in the Balkans. During the
campaign Bush maintained that the U.S. military has been drained by prolonged
peacekeeping and humanitian work and that these kinds of missions were taking a
toll on military morale and readiness.
Bush believes all military missions should be based on U.S. strategic
interests and should have clear objectives and exit strategies. He does not
want to overcommit the armed forces and would like to see allies shoulder more
responsibility in terms of regional conflicts. Bush believes that U.S.
regional priorities consist of Europe, Latin America, the Middle East, and the
Far East, and he strongly supports maintaining U.S. presence in NATO. He feels
that the U.S. should be prepared for military intervention if necessary, but
that a strong military will act as a deterrent to security threats.
Gore assailed Bush's proposal to withdraw U.S. forces from the Balkans saying
it would be "a damaging blow to NATO" and would jeopardize other U.S.
alliances. He has defined six criteria for deciding whether to deploy the
military: (1) Is the mission in U.S. national interests? (2) Is military force
the only way to solve the conflict? (3) Have all other options been exhausted?
(4) Will force solve the problem? (5) Do we have the support of allies? (6) Is
the cost of the operation proportionate to the objective? Gore's policy of
"forward engagement" calls for early diplomatic intervention to prevent the
need for future military deployment.
Bush's budget allots approximately $45 billion in military spending over the
next 10 years, although this number does not include his proposed anti-missile
defense system. He would implement pay raises of $1 billion per year, renovate
military housing and improve training. Bush would increase defense research
and development spending by $20 billion and provide pro-research tax
incentives. He pledges to earmark 20% of the procurement budget for
acquisition programs that would allow the military to skip a generation of
Gore proposes $100 billion in military spending over the next 10 years in order
to modernize and transform the armed forces. He would provide a 3.7% across
the board pay increase and pledges to improve military family services, health
care, retiree benefits and housing. He vows to get all soldiers off food
stamps. Gore believes the military should remain committed to increasing the
procurement budget to fund the next generation of technology and replace aging
systems. He also pledges to invest in the development of future generations of
Bush has criticized the current state of the military as "overextended and
unprepared for the future." He believes that the Clinton/Gore administration's
increased deployment of a smaller force, combined with decreased military
spending as a percentage of GDP has had a debilitating effect on the armed
forces. Bush would order a comprehensive review to address problems of morale
and personnel, and would base any specific improvements on this evaluation.
Gore calls the U.S. military the "best-trained, best-equipped, most capable
fighting force in the world." He believes that the Clinton/Gore
administration's post-Cold War military build-down has led to a force which is
"more agile, more powerful and more effective" at countering new strategic
threats. Gore points to his "forward engagement" policy to sustain readiness
while modernizing and transforming the armed forces into the information age.
He would base many of his decisions about transformation on the 2001
quadrennial defense review.