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Archive for Saturday, May 11, 1991

TRIMMING THE FORCES

May 11, 1991

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It stands to reason that if federal budget totals are to be cut back in the years ahead, the armed forces, for all their achievements in Operation Desert Storm, also must be reduced proportionately. National security must always be considered, but in view of the state of the world today, military spending curtailments are in order.

The chairman of the U.S. House Appropriations defense panel is asking another committee chairman to reject the Pentagon's proposed cut in the National Guard and Reserves for fiscal 1992. Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., has written Rep. Les Aspin, D-Wis., urging him to ensure that his House Armed Service Committee authorizes enough money to restore the reserves to the fiscal 1991 level.

President Bush, in his proposed defense budget for the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1, has called for reducing the nearly 1.2 million guard and reserve members by 108,000. In fiscal 1993, the budget proposes a cut of approximately 80,000 in the guard and reserves.

Those figures seem realistic, or at least well worth consideration and debate. The commander-in-chief has numerous advisers to help him assess the situation and aid him in formulating his plan to reduce the guard force.

Murtha says any trimming of the guard and reserves now would be premature, with the Persian Gulf operation so fresh in our minds and with the prospect that more U.S. activity in that region might be called for.

But it would be foolish and wasteful to automatically give these forces the same levels of funding, equipment and personnel for the next fiscal year when there is evidence curtailments will leave these forces effective enough to do the job. Federal spending cuts are needed in virtually every budget category, to bring outgo more in line with income. Military bases need to be closed and consolidated, personnel rosters should be studied carefully and spending on new weapons programs should be scrutinized carefully.

Just giving the guard and reserves a blank check to maintain the status quo because they performed so well in Operation Desert Storm is an emotional rather than a rational approach. Without evidence that the previous levels need to be maintained, the president's request for cutbacks seems to be in order.

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