We ARE In Trouble -
AlarmingTruth Of
US Military Status
By Pamela Newby and Lee Webb
(CBN News) Hard-hitting, high-tech precision bombing air raids. Whether targets are in Belgrade or Baghdad, America's military might, in 1999 appears unparalleled. Congressional leaders, such as Representative Floyd Spence who chairs the House Armed Services Committee, warn us not to be fooled.
Chairman Spence says, "Aside from thousands of our military being cut back along with equipment being worn out, we're cannibalizing the aircraft. There are now three people are doing the work of five." Continue...
Budget Authority dropped from 1990 to 1997 in the following ways (millions of dollars):
Military Personnel - 78,876 to 67,492 Operations and Maintenance - 88,309 to 90,590 Research, Development, Test and Evaluation - 36,459 to 32,654 Military Construction - 5,130 to 4,488 Overall Budget Authority Appropriation - 292,999 to 242,808
Active Military Personnel Strength from 1990 to 1996: 2,069,000 to 1,485,200
Strategic and General Purpose Forces reductions from 1990 to 1997:
B-52 Bombers - 220 to 56 B-1 Bombers - 90 to 60 Strategic Defense Interceptor Aircraft - 36 to 0
Army Divisions reduced (1990 to 1997):
Active - 18 to 10 Reserve - 10 to 8
Army Separate Brigades reduced (1990 to 1997):
Active - 8 to 3 Reserve - 27 to 18 Source: Defense Technical Information Center
Critics call it the Clinton administration's great military downsize. Consider these numbers...
In 1988, active and reserve armed services personnel totaled over 3.3 million. By 1998, their numbers had dropped to 2.5 million. Active Army divisions in 1990 numbered 18. By 1997, they were down to 10. In 1990, there were 546 Navy ships. Today there are 336.
Navy Master Chief Duane Frost is stationed aboard the USS Lady Gulf. "At the end of the Cold War, we were ready to deploy. We had all our infrastructure built up to deploy on a moment's notice. I don't believe we have that today."
That is precisely what has some military analysts very concerned. Since Operation Allied Force began, the aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt, on patrol in the Persian Gulf, was ordered to the Adriatic. That means the USS Kitty Hawk moved from her normal tour of duty in the Pacific to monitor Iraq, which could leave the volatile waters of the Pacific vulnerable until fall.
So the nagging question: What happens if a crisis breaks out now in the conflict-prone tinderbox of the Middle East or involving Taiwan or North Korea in the Pacific? Or as one military analyst has suggested, even worse?
"We've been giving away technology, especially to the Chinese, Mr. Kenneth Timmerman, a Middle East Analyst says. "We have been turning a blind eye to bad behavior by the Russians, allowing them to get away with arming Iran and Iraq with long-range missiles. And we have been neglecting our own security interests and our own national interests. I think the possibility of a larger war is very, very real and it's something that we need to face head-on.
America's national military strategy calls for the US to be able to fight two major wars at one time. But national security experts like Chairman Spence warn about the increasing high risk of a hollow military.
"A lot of our people get flippant and they say, 'Well, we've got a nuclear weapon. We can handle it that way.' Does anyone really think we're going to drop a bomb on the people in the Balkans or somewhere?"
Demoralizing The Military
Most of the dedicated military careerists, those in uniform are reluctant to go public with their concerns about problems in the military. It usually means an end to their career. However, there are those willing to speak out.
U.S. Navy Lieutenant Jerry Burns has been in the Navy 20 years. He enlisted in 1979. Along the way earned his college degree, then his commission and became a navel flight officer, flying at the back of F-14 Tomcats. Lieutenant Burns says he loves the Navy, but he's had enough. He cites his most recent stint with fighter squadron II.
"I was attached to the squadron for 25 months. Of that 25 months, I was deployed for 19 months, at least a portion of the month during my time there. That tempo of operation takes a tremendous toll on your family life, your personal life.
Doing more is one thing, but doing more with less, Burns says, is weakening and demoralizing our military. Doing more with fewer parts, fewer hours for actual flying time and fewer personnel. For example, on a deployment aboard the USS Eisenhower last summer, Burns says the carrier was 450 to 500 sailors short, especially in critical areas.
"That ship, at the time that I was out there, had so few qualified air traffic controllers for the carrier air traffic control center that we couldn't man the air traffic control center for 24 hours a day," says Lt. Burns. "If we would launch under VFR conditions, visual flight rules, during the day and the weather deteriorates such that we had to come back under instrument conditions, they literally had to go rouse people out of their beds from the night shift to bring them up during the day to man the radar consoles in order that we could recover aircraft under instrument conditions."
The admiral in charge of Naval Air Forces Atlantic refused to give us an on-camera interview for this story. A Navy spokesperson acknowledges the Eisenhower was up to 500 sailors short for that deployment but maintains the carrier's air traffic control center was, quote 'staffed to acceptable standards.' Burns wants to make it clear that he's not representing the Navy in this interview. These are his views, but views that are shared by many of his peers. A May 3rd Washington Times article reports, 'A Navy commander has warned the service's fleet of radar reconnaissance planes, including those flying against Yugoslavia, that shortages of aircraft, spare parts and training hours created a safety threat in his unit. The squadron commander said, "We have not been given the tools necessary to do our mission. We've merely been fighting for survival.'
Navy officials respond by saying, "No squadron is going to deploy until it's ready."
But Lieutenant Burns had something to say about his 1997 deployment on the USS Constellation.
"To be on cruise, you need to be at least a C-2, preferably C-1, which is the highest readiness rating. For pilots, you need to have flown at least 27 hours a month in order to achieve that C-1 readiness rating. When we were on cruise, or as the senior leadership likes to refer to it as we were out on the tip of the spear, our pilots were averaging about 12 to 15 hours a month, roughly half of what you actually need to be considered C-1, or at the top of your readiness rating. As I said, the senior leadership likes to refer to the deployed squadrons as the ones that are on the tip of the spear. The joke among the junior officers that we were on the tip of the spoon."
Burns says his peers blame those senior officers and civilian Pentagon leaders for not having their troops' best interests at heart.
"I think a lot of the junior officers believe that flag and general officers are little more than self-interested careerists who are more interested in promoting themselves and advancing their careers than taking care of their subordinates."
Burns says he's never seen morale lower.
"They try to remain upbeat, but I think the numbers speak for themselves. People are doing the best that they can, but at the end of the day they're going to vote with their feet. People are just going to leave."
"And that's what's happening. It's already the most hazardous profession in the world, and you've just made it a lot more hazardous by compounding it with these other issues. I love the Navy and I hope that these problems can be resolved and that we can turn the corner on the readiness and retention issues. But like I said, for me, it's just too hard anymore, and my family deserves better."
Lieutenant Jerry Burns, after 20 years of service, will soon be retiring from the United States Navy. This is already the most hazardous profession in the world, taking off and landing on the decks of aircraft carriers. Nothing these men and women do can be considered routine. Does Lt. Burns feel threatened with his safety when he gets on board an F-14 Tomcat? He says he checks the aircraft much more closely these days before he'll get in one.