Jan. 1, 2001

Remember the Kursk

“From our perspective, note to Moscow: The Cold War ended 10 years ago, and you lost. If, at any time, we thought we were threatened, the Russians would have had more explaining to do to their military families.”-Pentagon official quoted in Dec. 1 Washington Times, following several incidents in which Russian aircraft flew threateningly close to the carrier USS Kitty Hawk battle group.

“Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” Explained

“I think it [a 1993 attempt to lift the ban on gays in the military] backfired partly because the people that were against it were clever enough to force it. I tried to slow it down, but the first week I was President, Senator Dole–who, I think, saw it as an opportunity–decided to push a vote in the Senate disapproving of the change in the policy. I tried to put it off for six months, and the Joint Chiefs came down and raised hell about it.

“I wanted to do it the way Harry Truman integrated the military. He issued an executive order and gave the military leaders a couple of years to figure out how best to do it. But a lot of the gay groups wanted it done right away and had no earthly idea what kind of reaction would come. They were shocked by the amount of Congressional opposition.

“A lot of people think I compromised with the military. That’s not what happened. We knew that at least 75 percent of the House would vote against my policy. If I was going to be able to do anything, I had to have a veto-proof minority in either the House or the Senate. But the Senate voted 68­32 against my policy, which meant that I could not sustain my policy in either house.

“And it was only then that I worked out with Colin Powell this dumb-ass don’t ask, don’t tell thing.

“I went to the Army War College and explained what the policy was going to be, based on the agreement we’d reached together. Then they wrote that into law, and then we had several years of problems, where it was not being implemented in any way consistent with the speech I gave at the War College. … General Powell had agreed with every word.

“[Secretary of Defense] William Cohen has now changed the training and a lot of the other elements that contributed to the fact that this policy continued to have a lot of abuse in it, and I think it’s better now. But I still don’t think it’s the right policy. I think the policy that I wanted to implement originally was the right policy.”-President Clinton in interview with Rolling Stone, Dec. 28, 2000­Jan. 4, 2001.

The Explanation Explained

“CORRECTION: Due to a transcription error, the words ‘don’t ask’ were printed in the latest issue as ‘dumb-ass’ in our interview with President Clinton. We regret the error.”-Notice placed on Rolling Stone Web site one day after the publication of the Clinton interview.

Prepare for Two Wars

“We’ll have to be prepared to spend more. America is a very prosperous nation. We can afford whatever defense we feel is appropriate, and certainly, as we look toward the future, we’ll move to maintain a robust, modern force that can respond [in] more than one place at a time. … And in this regard, I think a two­MTW military capability … serves us well because this capability allows us to go in two directions at one time. It helps define us as a global power. … So, unless we’re willing to say we’re not going to worry about one of those two major theaters, we are accepting a considerable amount of risk today. So, the question becomes, how much more risk are we willing to take?”-Gen. Henry H. Shelton, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, in Nov. 16 remarks at a Washington conference.

More Troops for the Army

“Don’t put these words in the Secretary of Defense’s mouth or the Secretary of the Army’s mouth. If we were to maintain the level of operations that we have today, probably, I would say, 40,000, 50,000, or 60,000 more soldiers [are needed]. If you look at what we’re doing, we really are stretched.”-Gen. John Hendrix, commanding general of US Army Forces Command, in Nov. 30 remarks to the Defense Writers Group in Washington, D.C.

Schwarzkopf’s Reproof

“It is a very sad day in our country when the men and women of the armed forces are serving abroad and facing danger on a daily basis in places like Bosnia, Kosovo, or on ships like the USS George Washington, yet, because of some technicality out of their control, they are denied the right to vote for the President of the United States, who will be their Commander in Chief. These men and women do not have the luxury of getting in their cars and going to the post office to mail their ballots. They must depend upon a system that takes their ballot directly from their front-line positions on a circuitous route to the ballot box. At the same time, because of other perceptions of irregularity, other ballots that have already been counted twice are now being counted a third time. For the sake of fairness alone, these armed forces ballots should be allowed [in the final tally].”-Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf, retired commander of US forces in the Gulf War and advisor to Republican George W. Bush, in Nov. 18 statement to the press.

The Navy’s Old Air Force

“One of the reasons I am having such a challenge right now with the current readiness issue [in the Navy] is because my air force is too old. We have real clear indications that the cost of maintaining this force is escalating. Three of the four CNO executive boards that I have had since taking office have been about the escalating costs and the flying hour totals [of the naval aviation arm].”-Adm. Vern Clark, Chief of Naval Operations, in remarks to a Dec. 5 session of the Defense Writers Group in Washington.