As a 20-year Navy veteran, I take strong exception to Gov. George W. Bush’s claim that the military is in dire need of repair. The amounts of fraud, waste and abuse during the Reagan and Bush years were the worst during my career. The money was pouring in and we gobbled it up. Granted, our pay increase in the early 1980s was long overdue and it helped attract and retain a quality force, but it is a huge leap to say that our military today is not prepared to answer the call because of the current leadership. We are lean, professional and can answer when called upon. The quality of recruits coming in today is phenomenal considering the robust economy.
The fact is, the world is a vastly different place now and we don’t need a 600-ship Navy. After visiting 17 different countries on four continents, it has been my experience that our sailors are greeted much more warmly while a Democrat has been sitting as commander in chief.
I am proud of the fact that our military is smaller and leaner than when I entered 20 years ago. It means less is needed.
Do we need a pay raise? Yes. Do our quality of life programs need upgrading? Yes. But the Republican rhetoric about building up our military is simply a very thinly veiled pitch about adding pork, programs and weapons that we don’t really need. I resent being a pawn in the Republicans political game.
I intend to vote for Al Gore for president. If for nothing else because he has a clear understanding of the military and its role in the world and because he has a realistic approach to a balanced national defense.