Governor Bush said the other day that we need to redefine how war is fought
and won in the future, and redefine how the peace is kept. What does that
He served as Secretary of Defense in the George H.W. Bush administration,
1988-1992, and was interviewed here while he was the Republican vice-presidential candidate in the 2000
election. He is now the vice president of the United States.
The governor and I share a concern with many other people. We've made some
adjustments since the end of the Cold War, but we're still very much a force
that's built around those concepts and systems. Those systems and concepts
were built to be successful against Soviet force. The planning originally was
to have to be able to deal with 100 Soviet-led divisions that would invade
western Europe from the inner German border. That meant heavy armor. That
meant being prepared to go nuclear, if necessary, with tactical nuclear
weapons--if that was what was required--all the way up to all-out global
nuclear war. And, of course, that scenario is no longer valid. The Cold War
went away; we won. The Soviet Union imploded. And now it's important to
replace that with something else.
That process has begun. Colin Powell and I developed a new regionally based
strategy when we were in the Defense Department. We started to change the
force structure in some fairly significant ways. But I think there's a general
feeling--it's certainly one I have, and I know the governor has--that we
haven't done nearly enough to look forward, to look at what the force ought to
be like 20 or 30 years from now. Looking forward and thinking about the next
war is so important, and we don't think that has been adequately addressed.
We interviewed John Hillen, who believes the 2MTW strategy is locking us
into a force that's not going to be able to fight the next war. He calls it a
"death embrace" with the 2MTW. Do you think it's still valid, or do you think
The two major theaters scenario is certainly a valuable planning device. It's
easy to construct a scenario in which you get bogged down. For example, in a
Gulf conflict, where you've gone to war against the Iraqis, you could
simultaneously have the North Koreans decide to invade South Korea. It's easy
to imagine that some hostile power would take advantage of a major commitment
some place. So I think that there's absolutely nothing wrong with that notion
for planning purposes.
You do have to be careful not to assume that you can relax once you've put
together a plan to deal with that scenario. Plans never work out exactly the
way they were anticipated to work out. Planning is a useful device. It's
important for training. It's important for thinking about your forces, what
kind of forces you want, what your requirements might be. But you don't want
to be hidebound as a result of those plans. You have to be flexible, to
innovate, to find ways to deal with the unexpected. All that scenario really
does is give you some broad dimensions within which to plan.
The National Defense Panel is coming out with a recommendation that
basically says they don't feel that 2MTW is adequate for today's world. They
may even come out and say that it should be scrapped.
It depends on what you replace it with. I worry that if you scrap the
two-theater war scenario, it really would be a cover for reducing the forces
even further; that it would simply be used--by those who don't believe we need
a robust military--as a rationale or justification for even further cuts in the
defense budget. And frankly, I think that would be a disaster. So to some
extent, it's a bulwark against unwise action. But there are other areas that
badly need to be addressed. I would agree that there are important things we
need to begin thinking about in terms of future threats and future defense
I think about the whole need for homeland defense. If there is an area where
we have not done nearly enough in terms of thinking about our vulnerability as
a society--thinking about how an adversary might want to come at us and attack
us--it's in the whole area of vulnerability that we find here inside our
continental borders. That's really a new thing for us to think about,
especially within the context of the Defense Department. The military
historically has not had a significant role in terms of homeland defense.
We've always been concerned, because of posse comitatus and other concerns,
that we not allow the military any domestic role. We're very careful about how
we use even the National Guard. The National Guard, when it's operating
domestically, is under the control of the state governors, not the Defense
But think about the possibility of somebody bringing a weapon of mass
destruction into the United States, or detonating a nuclear weapon inside the
United States, or releasing biological or chemical agents. It's not a
traditional kind of attack from an adversary from enemy territory, but it's
something that is internally generated. Or think about attacks on our
intelligence or energy infrastructure. It is important for us to begin to
think about how do we defend against that. How do we collect intelligence
against those kinds of threats? Does that then put us in the position where we
have to collect data and report on Americans? We've never wanted to do that in
How has the world changed in the past ten years, in terms of the messy
conflicts, versus when you were secretary of defense?
When the Cold War ended, that sort of took the lid off. As long as there was
conflict between the US and the Soviet Union and the specter of all-out global
nuclear war, then other conflicts got bottled up. Or, because of the influence
of the two major powers, conflicts didn't arise. You think about Yugoslavia,
part of the Soviet bloc. As the Cold War ended, you ended up in a situation
where Yugoslavia came apart at the seams. All of a sudden, there's Bosnia and
civil war, and the war between the Serbs and the Kosovars and all of the other
ethnic conflicts that have arisen in that part of the world.
Now, when we think about various parts of the world, or we see civil wars
emerging, such as battles of religion or ethnicity or territory, it's in part
because we don't have the bigger conflict to focus on. So now we're more aware
of, and perhaps more concerned about those conflicts. Perhaps there's even an
increased frequency in those kinds of operations. But what it means is that
you don't have as neat an intellectual construct within which to think about
how you apply military force; when you would deploy forces; the terms and
conditions under which it would be deployed; who the enemy is; what constitutes
victory. It's more difficult now to define.
. . . Who are we facing as the potential enemy?
We need to have a debate about how we use force and why we use force. I have
certain preconceived notions based on my time and experience in the Defense
Department. I think everybody has preconceived notions. I am a great believer
that you have to be very cautious when you deploy US troops--that you should
not do it when you can't think of anything else to do. You need to do it when
there is some purpose that can be achieved by the application of military
force. You need to do it when there is a strategically vital issue at stake
that affects the United States.
You don't do it simply because there are terrible pictures running on CNN of
bad things happening to people in some part of the globe. That may indeed be a
great tragedy, but it may not lend itself to the commitment of American
In recent years, we have not had that kind of consideration with respect to our
deployments. That's one of the reasons we're in difficulty today--we've
over-committed the force. And we've put ourselves in several situations around
the world where we now have no concept of how we're going to get out, how we're
going to end that deployment, and what would constitute victory in that
scenario. And those are important questions to ask.
Condi Rice, Governor Bush's advisor on international affairs, said we're
not the world's policeman. But we interviewed Fred Kagan, an instructor at
West Point. He says if you don't police the world, it's not going to get
policed. Isn't it far more difficult to say that we're not going to be the
world's policeman when America is now so dominant in the world?
One of the things that drives this whole debate is the modern media's impact.
That huge machine is available out there to cover events and have an impact on
the debate here at home as to whether or not we want to commit forces. It's a
very difficult thing for a president to resist the cries to go and deal with
the crisis in Bosnia, or Rwanda, or wherever it might be. . . . If you've got
videotape that can run on the evening news, and people can see it on the
all-news channels, then you get growing demand in a democracy for action. If
you didn't have any videotape on that particular incident, the incident still
occurred, and it still happened. But you don't have the kind of public
pressure building on the decision-maker about the possibility of using troops
So you have to look at this whole question of how we're going to decide when
we're going to commit force, and when we aren't. One of the most difficult
things any president has to do is to resist the temptation to operate as though
we are the world's policeman. I don't think we can go every place, and do
everything. I don't think we should try. We have a small force. We're a
democracy defended by volunteers. It's important to keep in mind the value and
the significance of the relationship between the civilian leader--the
president, who is the commander in chief--and the troops. And If you cannot
explain to them the strategic significance of their deployment, if you cannot
say to their parents, "This is worth the possible loss of your son's life,"
then you don't have a valid policy. Then you have to back off and think about
whether or not that's a proper commitment of resources. It's vital for us to
keep that in mind as we think about these questions.
Should we not have gone into Mogadishu? Are there conflicts that we should
just stay away from because it's not our business?
Somalia is an interesting case. There are all kinds of missions, and I think
it's important to remember that committing US troops isn't the only option.
There are other things we may want to do. We may want to be involved
diplomatically to try to deal with the situation. We may want to provide
humanitarian assistance. We might want to encourage others to provide
humanitarian assistance. We might want to encourage others to commit troops.
Maybe we go in and provide logistic support, but somebody else actually puts
the manpower on the ground. There are different ways that we can respond to a
situation. We don't always have to be in a position where we say, "Only
President Bush decided initially to deploy in Somalia because there was a
humanitarian mission. You had an absolutely chaotic situation. You had
civilian refugee agencies in there who were unable to deliver food and medicine
because of the violence that was taking place. We put our troops in, dampened
down the violence, and made it possible for the NGOs, the non-governmental
organizations, to deliver their services. We thought we had achieved a
Then, of course, we left office. The follow-on problems developed when the
mission changed. The mission changed eventually to one of taking sides,
instead of staying neutral with respect to the factions fighting in the
Somalian civil war. And once we took sides and decided to go arrest the leader
of one particular faction, Mr. Aidid, then we got into a situation where we had
our troops engaged in combat against Somali forces. Eventually, the net result
was the battle of Mogadishu, which was very costly for Somalians as well as for
Americans, and which ultimately led to our withdrawal.
But I think the key thing there is to keep in mind how the mission involved
over time. As long as it was humanitarian, and the people looked at us as
being there to deliver food and medicine, we were in relatively good shape; we
could carry out the mission. Once we shifted, we sent in Delta Force and some
of our special ops people and decided to try and capture Mr. Aidid. Then we
clearly became an adversary for one of the major factions there. We were
engaged in a civil war, without having really thought about the consequences of
that, or why we wanted to do it, or without putting the forces in place that
would guarantee victory.
The idea of peacekeeping has come up on several occasions. I interviewed
General Jim Campbell at the Tenth Mountain Division. He recalls seeing on the
cover of a magazine, "Do you call this soldiering?" And it was a peacekeeping
mission in Bosnia. And he said, "You're darn right I do." Should we be
pulling back from peacekeeping commitments abroad? When Governor Bush says,
"We're peacemakers, not peacekeepers," what's the heart of that
We have to be careful not to let our troops be used the same way, frankly, that
a lot of other forces are used in the world. A peacekeeping mission is an
important mission. There needs to be forces that can carry that out. I happen
to think it's best if we've got, for example, the Moroccans or the Bengalis, or
the Indians, or some of our other friends and allies in various places around
the world willing to commit troops to that kind of a venture.
There are times when we may want to have US forces involved, but those times
are relatively rare. The edge we have--our capacity, our military competence,
our ability to go to war and project power vast distances around the world--is
unique; nobody else can do that. That's not always required in terms of these
peacekeeping missions. It's important to husband that resource, and not misuse
it, and not get bogged down with all of our combat units somehow committed to
But I do think it's appropriate, if we are going to send in peacekeepers some
place, to suggest that maybe the US ought to have a little specialization of
labor here. Let us provide the air support; we're good at that. Let us
provide the logistics and some of the intel support; we're good at that. These
are things that a lot of these Third World countries don't have--but they have
troops. We can provide that essential level of support on the ground, but it
would be their men on the ground, their battalions that would go in and
actually occupy a particular piece of territory and deal with one of these
situations. We'd be committed. We'd be there. But we wouldn't have all of
our ground forces tied up in various places around the world on missions that
frankly are not of the same high order that we train them for.
Is it simply a question of money? If it were properly resourced, we could
then do the entire spectrum? Could we then do everything from small-scale
contingencies to peacekeeping? Or are you saying that, even if the money were
there, we need to reconsider the way we deploy forces?
We need to reconsider, even if the money were there. It's not just a question
of money. I keep coming back to the enormous importance of recognizing the
volunteer nature of the service in the US military today. And morale is
enormously important, and that degree of trust between the commander in chief
and the troops is important. The troops want to know that what they're doing
is valuable, that it is worth the potential risk to life and limb for them to
go and do that. And that's not true of a lot of so-called peacekeeping
missions around the world.
It's also true that a large part of our force is married. They have families.
I keep running into what people call the birthday problem. The first time
somebody said that to me, I said, "What do you mean, the birthday problem?" He
was an active duty officer. He said, "The third time you miss your kids'
birthdays in a year because you're deployed, you begin to wonder about whether
or not you ought to re-enlist." And we have to take that into account, given
the nature of our force.
All kind of things enter into it: morale, housing for the families, good
schools for the kids. Ultimately our ability to defend ourselves depends on
being able to persuade good people that it's a worth of a piece of their lives,
and significant commitment of their time and energy, including possible
personal risk, for them to wear the uniform. And if we're sending them off to
Timbuktu some place, to some far corner of the globe to deal with a local
conflict where they fail to see the relevance, we're going to have trouble
retaining them and recruiting them. We eventually run into the situation where
they don't perceive that they're part of an organization that . . . genuinely
values their service.
. . . Isn't there a moral dimension to foreign policy--that we must go in
because this is the right thing to do? Or do we only go in if our strategic
interests are threatened?
There is oftentimes a moral dimension to it. I don't think you can draw a line
and say, "This is a moral deployment, and this is a realpolitik
deployment." Because of the values we have as a society, there are times when
the level of concern rises to the point where some kind of an action is
appropriate. But you have to resist the temptation to let your indignation, if
you will, override your good judgment. You have to remember the cost that is
involved. It's very hard sometimes to say, "No, we're going to take a pass;
we're not going to get involved in that conflict." . . . And yes, there
usually is a moral dimension. Usually, once we make a deployment or get
involved, there is an element of morality in the justifications we use as to
why we're there and why we're doing it.
Lots of times, it's to defend freedom and democracy, or to restore rightful
government and so on. These all take on moral dimensions. I really don't
think it's an either/or proposition. But in the broad scheme of things, I'm
most interested in having a president who understands the cost of what it means
when you commit troops to foreign lands. I want a president who understands
what the potential risks are, and that it be the kind of operation that you
feel justified in putting lives at risk--that you can explain to their parents
when it's over why it was necessary for them to make that sacrifice.
What is the most fundamental disagreement between yourself and your
opponents in this race on the use of force in the world?
I have the feeling that they have been more driven by CNN than by a careful,
thoughtful analysis of what's in our interest and what isn't. I also think
that, to some extent, they've been driven by pressures from our allies that
would not have been there if they'd been more reliable in terms of the
leadership that they were providing to the Free World. When you've got an
American president who's demonstrated his commitment and his leadership, who
keeps his word, who has good relationships with our allies around the world,
then our allies respect him and our adversaries fear him. Then he can make a
commitment about the extent to which we're involved in a particular
circumstance, and people will take him at his word.
Some of the deployments in the Balkans were driven by an insistence on the part
of our allies that they didn't believe we were committed if we didn't put
troops on the ground. If we'd had a steadier hand as we were going through
that process, we might have been able to again have them put the troops on the
ground. We'd provide the support we can, but we wouldn't have to have American
personnel on the ground in the Balkans today.
The Haiti deployment was a mistake. It was an unwise use of US forces. It has
produced very little result of any great validity. We were going to go in and
quote, "restore democracy to Haiti." Of course, Haiti never really had a
democracy before that. But today we've pulled out for the most part. We just
have a small handful of people still there. But Haiti is really no better off
than it was when we committed 20,000 troops there some years ago.
What phrase would you use in your recommendation as we look at the way we
I'd say "reevaluation." What we're really interested in is reviewing all those
commitments. A lot of them will be kept, without question. But there will be
an effort to try to rationalize why we're where we are; to think about the exit
strategy. Are we permanently resigned now to the notion that we're going to
have a significant number--say, several thousand American troops--permanently
in Kosovo? I don't think that's where we want to go. We do need to begin
thinking about an exit strategy.
There are a number of areas like that where some new thinking is in order. But
this is not an isolationist proposition. That's certainly not my record. It's
not the record of any of those people that Governor Bush talks with, such as
his advisers, Colin Powell, Condi Rice, and so forth. We're all very much
internationalist. But we think there is some fine-tuning needed in terms of
how the US plays that role and what kind of leadership we provide in the
future, as well as what kind of resources we assign to the military. The
military clearly has a significant role to play in carrying out those missions.
. . . The Congressional Budget Office just came out with a report that said
the military is woefully underfunded. . . . The only item of the budget that
they increased was procurement. We've interviewed a lot of people who are
saying that you can't just keep pouring that money into the same Cold War
weapons systems. Does it make you a little bit nervous that we still keep
feeding this legacy force? Even though they're recommending $50 billion more,
it's for procurement. When the readiness crisis looms . . . a little money is
taken for readiness, and a lot more is taken for weapons. . . .
I haven't seen the CBO study yet. Part of the difficulty is that they have
really short-funded procurement. Bill Owens, a very thoughtful and talented
officer . . . was my military assistant when I became secretary; and later, was vice
president of the Joint Chiefs. He probably is as knowledgeable as anybody in
the business about some of the things that might be done to do things
differently in the Pentagon. He's made an estimate that the budget may be $150
billion undercapitalized. That's a huge number. It is based on the fact that
a lot of the procurement budget in recent years has been diverted to support a
lot of these deployments, and diverted to make up for the shortfalls in the
So we've been eating our own seed corn, in a sense. Procurement is the money
you're investing for the future. There are two ways to look at that future
investment. One is buying tanks and planes and ships--the hardware you need to
replace the stuff that's wearing out. The other important part to look at is
building those new systems that you hope will be different and better and able
to carry the fight to the enemy 50 years from now. Those new technologies, the
R&D spending, becomes an important part of the planning, and ultimately
feeds into procurement.
We do need to think about how we invest in new technology--how we take
advantage of the revolution in information technology, for example--and feed
that into the force and use it. . . . Vast numbers of our vehicles in the US
military don't have Global Positioning System units on them . . . yet many
recreational boats have them. We have not made that investment in enormously
valuable pieces of equipment that are cheap, and take advantage of modern
technology. Those kinds of things aren't happening and they do need to happen.
The procurement debate turns, in part, over which airplane to buy? We've got
several of them in the pipeline now. We've got the F-18E and F-18F models for
the carriers. You badly need to have a naval aircraft if you're going to have
carriers; it doesn't do any good to have carriers without airplanes on them.
You need the F-22 for the air force. That's the next-generation air
superiority machine. You've got the joint strike fighter in the works, which
is supposed to provide a ground attack capability for all the services. There
are a lot of systems out there. The V-22 Osprey takes off like a helicopter
and flies like a plane. That's going to cost the Marines a lot of money. And
partly what they're saying is that it's not clear at all how we're going to pay
for all of that if we leave things as they are--if we're walking down that road
and saying, "We've got to have all of these systems."
We're going to be spending half a trillion dollars on the Super Hornet, the
S-22 joint strike fighter. Should we go forward with those?
. . . You put yourself in a position of either choosing among those, or coming
up with a lot more money, or leaving some very important area uncovered. The
joint strike fighter is not as far along as the others. The F-22 is about
ready to go operational now. It's in production. We've done virtually all the
R&D. It's a great airplane. There's a big investment there. It will
probably guarantee us air superiority for the next 50 years.
And you need a carrier force if you're going to have aircraft carriers. We've
got a dozen aircraft carriers. The F-18 has the advantage at least of being a
lot cheaper than the other stuff, because it's an upgraded version of the old
F-18. It was built on an old system of design. You've probably got to go with
at least some of both of those items. Maybe you can find ways to reduce the
buy; which has the effect of increasing the cost of each unit, as happened with
the B-2. You end up with 20 B-2s, and they each cost $2 billion.
These are very tough problems. I don't think, though, that you can simply go
in and say that we're going to cancel any one particular system. I need to sit
down and look at it. And if I had to make the decision and go to two from
three, I'd have to spend some more time looking at it. I'd want to talk to the
services. I'd want to hear what they've got to say. I'd want an assessment of
what we can do with the F-16. The F-16 has been a great aircraft. It's got a
lot of the capabilities that they plan to build into the joint strike fighter.
Can we get another generation out of upgraded modernized F-16s? We're
producing a lot of those. They're in service all over the world. It is a
great airplane. And maybe we can solve our ground attack problem by continuing
to build F-16s for the next 10 years, instead of going immediately to the joint
Some people say that these are Cold War legacy systems, which were built for
a different world.
They are clearly based on technology we already have, or we wouldn't be
building them. But a good reason for going with the F-18 is that it simplifies
your deck load on an aircraft carrier. You get down to basically one airplane
that can perform all the missions around the carrier; that saves significantly
on your maintenance and your spare parts inventories. It becomes cheaper to
operate the system. You get rid of the F-14s that are on the deck now. You
get rid of the A-6s and some of the other aircraft that you no longer will
need, because the Hornet can perform all those missions. So ultimately, you end
up with a more efficient carrier unit.
The other thing to keep in mind here is the timelines that we're talking about.
That next generation of technology we want to bring in and put on the force is
a 20-year proposition. It takes so long to design and build new systems, and
to get them into the force. You can't do it overnight. You have to have
something between now and 2010 and 2015; you can't just scrap all of that
capability. It takes about nine years from the time we authorize an aircraft
carrier until the time it's ready to go to sea. That shortens the time
horizons unless you build a program totally in the black, as we did with the
F-117. But the F-22 has been in the works since before I was secretary, and
that was 10 years ago. It's just now getting to the point where we're going to
begin to have some units flying with the F-22.
These are long time horizons in building and developing the technology;
incorporating it in a weapons system; developing the operational doctrine for
how you're going to use it; training people for what the mission is, and how it
can be used in the mission. So you can't just shut off today and say we're not
going to buy anything else. You clearly need to make sure you can fill that
gap until we get to whatever it is we're ultimately going to.
General Bob Scales, who was commandant at the Army War College, said that
the Gulf War was the last great industrial age war.
I don't know what the next war is going to be yet. The Gulf was clearly an
industrial age war, without question--look at the Iraqi forces, and the US
forces that we brought to bear, the equipment we used, and so forth. We had
the advantage of having geared up to fight the Cold War, and then we got to go
use that capability in the desert against Iraq. Will there be another war that
will take on that size and scope? I'm inclined to think, probably not, but I
don't know. I really don't know.
We clearly are the preeminent power in the world today. We have advantages
that nobody else has, when you think about our military capacities and
capabilities. But what I worry about is homeland defense--the notion that
somebody who wishes us ill will find other ways to get at our vulnerabilities.
And we are vulnerable in so many ways domestically here at home, while we're
out there ready to deploy at a moment's notice to the far corners of the globe
to beat the bad guys. The bad guys are right here at home looking for ways to
bring down our economy, to do damage to our society, and maybe kill millions of
Americans. We need to start thinking about that problem--how we deal with it;
how we have to shape our expectations that we have for key institutions; what
roles they're going to play in our society, if we're going to be equipped to
cope with that kind of threat.
Getting back to this idea of the world's policeman. . . [what about] the idea that if you don't put out the brush fires they turn into big fires? Does that also have to be a part of our thinking?. . . Do we have almost an
obligation to do that?
You have to think about that. Clearly, you have to evaluate a situation. You
want to assess if you didn't intervene, is it going to get out of hand and
expand into some larger conflict? But I think you have to evaluate that on a
case-by-case basis, and not every conflict is going to ultimately emerge into a
big war. Not every conflict is resolvable. And there are consequences of
committing US forces as the world's policeman, if they're going to have to go
stay there forever. If we're talking about a 50-year commitment, or a 100-year
commitment, to separate the Serbs from the Kosovars in Kosovo, is that
something we want to commit to? Should that be a US role?
Who have we got in our military who wants to go spend the rest of their career
patrolling the hills of Serbia to keep the Serbs and the Albanians in Kosovo
from killing each other? Not every problem is solvable. And we have to make
tough choices, and we live in an imperfect world. I'm more reserved, I guess,
than Mr. Kagan about the extent to which we want to embark on that kind of
policy. I think we have to be careful.
I'm more skeptical about whether or not we always know what's best for
everybody else. There is a bit of a temptation for us to want to come in and
want to think the rest of the world wants to live like we do, and they're
willing to trust us to make decisions for them. And that's clearly not the
Sometimes people have to be allowed to make their own mistakes. No matter how
smart we think we are, we're not smart enough always to understand the other
person's point of view; or to understand why some of these conflicts have
lasted for centuries; or why people are killing their neighbors today over
slights suffered 200 years ago by their grandparents. So we have to be a
little cautious about intervening simply because we have the power to
intervene. We might not always know how to intervene intelligently in a way
that's going to, quote, "resolve a conflict."
The efforts to make a new army force that is quicker with combat power begs
the question then of national purpose. If you have a force that can land so
quickly with so much power, you're going to use it. And is that something we
want? Is transformation in this direction a good idea or not?
No. Let's come back to this notion that we don't always know what's best, or
even assume we have the power to intervene. Do we know what purpose we want to
intervene for, or what the ultimately outcome is going to be? I think it
really does go to this question of national purpose. And that's really a
decision that civilians have to make.
I don't expect the chief of staff of the US Army to be charged with addressing
that issue. He might have views on it. We might want to know what he thinks
about it. His job is to build force, and when ordered, to deploy the force and
use it. But it's up to us civilians in all walks of life, the congress, and
especially the president and his national security team, to make the decisions
about when it is appropriate to use the force--when it is consistent with our
national purpose; what our purpose is, what our strategy is, and why we should
intervene in a particular set of circumstances.
In what ways do you feel we have a military in decline that lacks readiness?
There is a lot of evidence out there. Some of it is anecdotal. I talk to a
lot of people still on active duty who tell me about the state of affairs
internally. When I was running Halliburton, retired senior officers came to
work for the company. And I get phone calls. I had one last week from a guy
who commanded one of the divisions in Desert Storm and at one point ran the
National Training Center in California. He keeps up with what's going on at
the National Training Center, where we train our tank crews. And they're having real trouble.
I look at the data that's produced by the Defense Department itself. The air
force readiness rate went down from 85 percent down to 65 percent. An army
report shows that 40 percent of our army helicopters aren't combat ready. I
look at the GAO study of 1,000 young officers and enlisted men, with over half
of them getting ready to get out because they don't want to stay.
The fact of the matter is that readiness has declined significantly. It's
affecting everything. It's affected morale and spare parts and training, and
our ability in the future to conduct future conflicts. Most of all, though, as
morale declines, it's a corrosive thing in a volunteer force, because we won't
be able to retain the kinds of people we have to have if we're going to have a
really first-rate military. And that counts for more than money; that counts
for more than weapons systems--it goes to the heart of how we defend ourselves
as a democracy.
I keep coming back to this notion: people think and say, "Well, it's okay that
we don't have the spare parts, because the Russians are in worse shape for
spare parts." That's not the point. The point is, if you don't have the spare
parts, that young mechanic out there on the flight line who's charged with
maintaining that F-15 can't do his job. If you are being deployed on missions
that take down the readiness because you're off doing other things, and those
missions are not understandable to the troops, and they don't really understand
why they're there and what they're doing, that affects morale; they won't
reenlist. If you've got the pilot who's not getting the flying hours because
the aircraft is not maintained, and he isn't up and ready, he's going to quit
and go fly for United.
The whole readiness question isn't just a question of whether we're ready to go
to war tomorrow against Russians. It is a question of whether or not you're
maintaining the force in a manner that's consistent with the expectations we
have for those people who are serving in it. Do they believe we care enough to
give them the resources we ask them to do for us? Or are we short-changing the
force so much by devoting money to other purposes? Are we misusing the force
by committing it in areas where it shouldn't be committed? Eventually, will
they come to question the value of their service, and decide not to serve?
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