Jan. 1, 1995
“Systemic” Readiness Woes

“Virtually every measure of readiness that has surfaced during this exercise seems to confirm [that US armed forces are in] the early stages of a long-term systemic readiness problem that is not confined to any one quarter of the fiscal year or portion of the force. The damaging effects of reduced readiness are being felt all year long, throughout the force, and in every service. . . . What is needed is urgent action with an eye to the long term to reverse the downward readiness spiral and to restore US military forces to the levels of preparedness necessary to effectively fulfill their mission.”

Rep. Floyd D. Spence (R­S. C.), ranking Republican (now chairman) of the House Armed Services Committee, on December 5, 1994, in the introduction to “Military Readiness: The View From the Field,” an extensive field study of the readiness of US military units.

Dangerous and Ill-Advised

“We are . . . troubled that the Department of Defense may be forced to cancel most, if not all, of its major modernization programs. . . . Maintaining the technological edge is essential to the ability of our military forces to prevail on the battlefields of the future. We believe that any decision to terminate or slow the development of these vital force modernization programs would be dangerously ill-advised.”

Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and John W. Warner (R-Va.) of the Senate Armed Services Committee, in a joint December 5, 1994, letter to President Clinton, urging him to raise the Pentagon budget and stop spending defense funds on certain nondefense items.

Warning From the Bear

“Russia is against the North Atlantic alliance expanding the sphere of its influence to the east, since then NATO’s frontiers will approach the border of the Russian Federation. . . . We are against such huge, multinational, global organizations. We have only just stopped existing as two blocs, and we’re on the point of going back into it. Of course, this is inadmissable and won’t be effective in security questions.”

Russian President Boris N. Yeltsin, in a December 5, 1994, statement in Moscow, quoted in the Washington Times, attacking NATO’s decision to start formal discussions with prospective new members in eastern Europe.

Turbulence and Stress

“The drawdown has caused many service members to question their long-term commitment and the prospect of a full career. The turbulence of consolidations and base closures has disrupted assignments and family life. Fighter squadrons in Europe have been moved from one base to another and then immediately forward deployed to Turkey before families were settled. And a high operational tempo has put an extra strain on selected units. We are all aware of cases such as the heavy deployment rate for the AWACS. . . .

“One quick snapshot statistic. On September 30, 1994, the number of Air Force personnel deployed away from home units was four times higher than five years ago. . . . What was unusual five years ago has become the norm today.”

William J. Perry, Secretary of Defense, at a November 10, 1994, press briefing concerning the launching of new quality-of-life programs for the troops.

Committed in the Gulf

“Our policy in the [Persian] Gulf is clear. We will not permit Iraq to enhance its capabilities below the 32d parallel. We won’t permit Baghdad to intimidate the United Nations teams making sure that Iraq never again possesses weapons of mass destruction. The United States and the international community will not allow Baghdad to threaten its neighbors now or in the future. That is not our threat. That is our promise.”

President Clinton, in October 28, 1994, remarks to US armed forces at Tactical Assembly Area Liberty, near Kuwait City.

Helms on Clinton . . .

“You ask an honest question. I’ll give you an honest answer. No, I do not [believe that President Clinton has demonstrated an ability to command the US military]. And neither do the people in the armed forces.”

Sen. Jesse Helms (R-N. C.) ranking Republican (now chairman) of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, in November 19, 1994, remarks on CNN’s “Evans and Novak” program.

. . . And Shalikashvili on Helms

“I was taken aback by [Helms’s] implication that . . . somehow, the Joint Chiefs of Staff and I shared his view on President Clinton. Nothing could be further from the truth, and I think it’s important . . . that this view not be represented as that of the military leadership or, for that matter, the view of the military as a whole.”

Gen. John M. Shalikashvili, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, in a November 19, 1994, statement quoted in the New York Times.

The Second Guess

“This exploration [of arms proliferation] finds many military counterproliferation options to be risk-laden. Some may be infeasible. All seem unattractive, but inaction eventually could prove worse if adversaries unfriendly to the United States use the interim to deploy weapons of mass destruction. Thereafter they could employ previously unavailable powers to coerce US friends and, if war occurred, inflict unprecedented casualties on US and allied armed forces as well as civilians. The question then would become ‘Why didn’t US leaders take steps to prevent a catastrophe?’ “

John M. Collins, senior specialist in national defense, Congressional Research Service, in a June 28, 1994, study, “Nuclear, Biological, and Chemical Weapon Proliferation: Potential Military Countermeasures.”