The chairman of the U.S. House National Security Committee is increasingly alarmed at our rapidly deteriorating military. "It's becoming a hollow military" drifting into the same kind of unpreparedness that preceded World War II and Korea, says Rep. Floyd Spence, R-S.C.
Will we ever learn?
Deep and multitudinous cuts since the Persian Gulf War have not only left the armed services in woefully poor shape to win two regional wars, says Spence; he's not even sure it could win one.
Defense expert Mark Helprin, a Wall Street Journal contributing editor in a talk at Michigan's Hillsdale College illustrated in stark terms just what Spence means.
Helprin listed the following figures he found in The Military Balance, 1997-1998, published by the International Institute of Strategic Studies:
709,000 regular army soldiers;
8 regular army divisions;
2 reserve divisions;
20 air force and navy air wings with approximately 2,000 combat aircraft;
232 strategic bombers;
13 ballistic missile submarines with 3,114 nuclear warheads on 232 missiles;
500 intercontinental ballistic missiles with 1,950 warheads;
four aircraft carriers;
121 surface combatants and attack submarines, plus all the support basing, transport and logistical access, including tanks, armored fighting vehicles, helicopters, etc., appropriate to such a force.
These figures don't represent what has been lost in war. They are what has been lost in peace: the difference between the U.S. armed forces at the time of the Persian Gulf War in 1990 and the reduced "target force," largely achieved, being sought by Clinton.