Nov. 1, 2000

Tin Cups Prohibited

“Yesterday, Secretary Cohen met with the service chiefs and the commanders in chief of the various areas-the commander in chief of our European forces, the Pacific Command, the Southern Command, the Special Operations Command–and, acknowledging that this is a tricky political time, said to them that he expected them to play straight on the readiness issue, to give the facts, not to beat the drum with a tin cup in hand to try to generate more pressure for defense spending, but, on the other hand, to talk honestly about the pressures they face from the operations their forces are undergoing.”-Pentagon spokesman Kenneth H. Bacon, in Sept. 7 Pentagon news briefing.

Duke’s View

“With critical readiness issues and our security at stake, you owe it to military men and women, Congress, and the American people to [allow] full, open, and honest discussion of the remaining problems we face by our service leaders. … Please put principle above politics and stop toeing the political line that has been drawn by your bosses at the White House.”-Rep. Randy “Duke” Cunningham (R-Calif.) in a reply to the “tin cup” statement that Bacon attributed to Cohen.

The Real Powell Doctrine

“I have always strived to minimize friendly casualties in any military operation. Only a madman would do otherwise. But nothing in my writings or actions suggests a ‘no casualties’ approach. … My philosophy remains what it has always been–our troops deserve to know and understand what they are fighting for, and they need to be given the military resources and political support to prevail quickly and decisively. Such action will usually minimize casualties. Casualties occur in war, and soldiers know that is a risk they take when they put on the uniform. … The no casualty approach is not a military strategy. It is a political strategy, used when a political judgment is made that the American people will not support the loss of their GIs for the goals being pursued.”-Retired Gen. Colin L. Powell, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, writing in Sept. 14 Wall Street Journal.

Campaign Morality Then …

“[President Bush’s spokeman, Marlin Fitzwater, has criticized] an endorsement of Gov. Clinton the other day by 22 retired military officers. The list of names was pretty impressive [and was] intended to counter charges by the Bush campaign that Mr. Clinton was not fit to be Commander in Chief. … What [Fitzwater] chose to do … was attack the endorsers. … The ugly implication was that no real military officer could be for Mr. Clinton.”-Oct. 14, 1992, Washington Post editorial approving retired officers’ endorsement of Democratic candidate Bill Clinton.

… Campaign Morality Now

“When senior retired military people endorse a Presidential candidate, … it marks a major step toward politicizing the American military.”-Former Chief of Air Force History Richard H. Kohn, same newspaper, Sept. 19, after some 85 retired officers endorsed Republican candidate George W. Bush.

Military Hardware

“What concerns me is … that, when you add up the capital available to our entire military-industrial complex today, it’s significantly less than that of Home Depot. That is a sad state of affairs in America, when the defense industry we rely on to build the kinds of technologies we need has less capital available than a large chain of home supply stores.”-Rep. Curt Weldon (R-Pa.), House Armed Services Committee, quoted by reporter Kerry Gildea in Oct. 6 “Defense Daily,” a Washington, D.C., newsletter.

Is There Some Question About It

“Depending on which of several plans is adopted, … additional [health care] benefits for [military] retirees could end up adding as much as $5 billion a year to a defense budget that most policy-makers … argue … is already overburdened. Retirees 65 and over, who now get Medicare, would in addition get the equivalent of free, full Medigap insurance so that virtually all their health care expenses would remain covered without charge. The retirees are said to deserve that by virtue of their past service to the country.”-From Sept. 29 editorial in the Washington Post.

Dim Prospects

“The Air Force, still smarting over perceived slights during the last QDR [the Quadrennial Defense Review, conducted in 1997], will trumpet its dubious achievements in the air war over Kosovo and continue to pitch its ‘halt phase’ theme. … Airpower advocates, seeking to gain a bigger advantage in the QDR process, aim to discount the Army’s relevance to the national military strategy. They push the argument that technological advances in stealth and precision guided munitions have made ground forces virtually obsolete, except as peacekeepers. … Airpower advocates also characterize the Army as too slow and heavy to be relevant while neglecting the fact that the Air Force fails to provide sufficient lift assets.”-John Kreul, analyst with the Institute of Land Warfare, in July paper, “Son of QDR: Prospects for the Army.”

Bismarck Wept

“Herr [Rudolf] Scharping [the German defense minister] is not a lucky man. The other day, he was hurled against the roof of his car when it tried to pass the security gate at the Pentagon. A few years ago, he was seriously injured while riding his bicycle. This summer, on the way to the European summit in Lisbon, the government delegation took off without him. The aircraft returned midflight only after another minister asked: ‘Where is Rudolf?’ “-From Sept. 13 The Times of London.