- (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...
- FURTHER STATISTICS
- 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
- 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
- "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
- 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.