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About base closings
Posted By David Hackworth On 06/03/1998 @ 1:00 am In Commentary | Comments Disabled
The Pentagon brass rightly want to close redundant military bases.
They say we don’t need these leeches; keeping them bleeds off money
needed to prepare to fight.
Over $14 billion has been saved by bases closed since 1990. Now
Secretary of Defense William Cohen reports that $20 billion more could
be saved by the year 2015 if we get rid of more unneeded infrastructure.
But if Washington politicians have their way, that won’t happen.
Let’s face it, what congressional porkers would want to shrink the size
of their trough? Who would willingly disrupt a proven pay-off system and
end all the free rides on the golden carousel?
Since the early days of this Republic, porkers have put hometown jobs
first over life and death matters such as giving our fighters the right
stuff and the right training before the bullets start to sing.
This is why America has never been ready for war when the Pearl
Harbors happen. It’s an American political tradition to defend the pork
barrel over our uniformed sons’ and daughters’ lives.
It’s just not the pols either. Our shortsightedness and/or collusion
– whether inadvertent or intentional — has let them kill our kids.
It’s hard for us to stop thinking that pork means jobs, and jobs bring
the good life to our hometowns.
When you get right down to it, we’re accessories to murder too, close
behind Congressman Mefirst and Senator Lard.
Check out the military cemeteries. Many of the graves are there
because there wasn’t a decent radar early warning set up in Hawaii in
1941 or a gunner didn’t have an effective anti-tank weapon in Korea in
1950 or a 19-year-old rifleman was trained in the snow at Fort Lewis,
Washington for the tropical jungles of Vietnam in 1969.
Since 1990, our forces have been cut by almost 1 million troops, yet
few bases have been nailed shut. Congress has fought tooth and nail to
keep all the empty barracks, unused drill fields and half-filled bases.
They chant, “We got to be prepared to refight World War II,” a sorry
rationalization to stay connected to the trough since there will never
be another war like WWII.
Between 1989 and 2003, the number of Navy ships will be cut by 46
percent, berthing space by only 18 percent. Army personnel will be cut
by almost 50 percent, Army bases by only 7 percent.
Keeping unneeded bases — many of the existing 400 bases were built
in the 18th Century to keep marauding Indians away from settlers’ scalps
– places our warriors at high risk. The money needed to train for razor
sharp combat readiness, to replace worn-out gear, buy spare parts or for
new gear to modernize our force is going instead to feed fat voters near
bases which do not and will not have any military necessity as we enter
the 21st Century.
At least 100 bases could be closed tomorrow, and no one less the
porkers and many of their misguided constituents would miss them.
Keeping them up and running makes as much sense as maintaining a six
bedroom family house long after the kids have flown the nest.
Our military leaders want to be ready for the wars of the future, not
of the past. They know they must copy big business by constantly
updating and asking themselves: If we don’t need it, why keep it?
Just one example out of dozens: We’re maintaining two forts in Alaska
to house one Army brigade. This costs almost as much as it does to run
Fort Bragg, NC, a facility with 10 times the number of troops. The
stockholders at GM, IBM or GE would scream if such abuse went down at
one of their plants. But somehow taxpayers have closed their eyes to the
stupidity of allowing the Senators from Alaska to hang onto a couple
bases when there’s no longer any military necessity whatsoever.
The Pentagon can only win this campaign by out-guerrilla-ing the
porkers. They should consolidate by quietly moving all units from bases
they don’t need. Then invite the media to see Fort Empty, while asking
the General Accounting Office to report the waste and abuse involved in
keeping them open to the American people.
A revolution is happening and because of it the bad guys — aka
Perfumed Princes and politicians — have no place to run and no place to
In years past, they had time to spin, do damage control and cover up
their sins. But now because of the immediacy of the Internet, the news
is out there frequently within minutes of their trespasses and literally
within hours, guys like Army Major General Hale and Sandy Berger are
publicly exposed and on their way to becoming toast.
The disaster of Vietnam would not have happened had the ‘Net been
around. The John Paul Vanns would have put the truth on the ‘Net and
there would never have been a Wall. Like every man that’s ever laced up
a pair of boots, John had warts, but in Vietnam he was the best thinker
and doer in the business. If he’d gotten Westmoreland’s job in 1964, the
war would’ve had a different ending. Meaning he wouldn’t have refought
World War II again as poor mentally-crippled Westmoreland insisted on
Starting to believe if anything can save our military, and for that
matter, American democracy, it will be the web.
The problem is waking up the people. The scientists have designed
pills to make a person giggle all the time, pills to grow hair and pills
to restore sex drives. Maybe, they should start work on freedom pills to
make us wake up and take charge of our country before it’s too late.
Wanting to do a story on presidential perks and am in the process of
collecting string. A warrior just gave me a tip that when Clinton was on
his April African Safari — while trying to duck the ticking Monica bomb
– the USAF supported his visit with 153 C-141 sorties. If any readers
have direct knowledge of this mission, please contact me ASAP.
If it’s true, shame on him. We had warriors stuck all over the world
while he was sucking on his cigar, beating his new African Bongo drum.
With 153 sorties, I could have moved my 101st Airborne Brigade anywhere
in the world with 30 days supplies of goodies and had airplanes to
When Abe called on Grant in Richmond in 1865 at the end of the war,
he drove the carriage himself and had one Pinkerton guard for security
and, man-oh-man, he was dead in the center of enemy territory. And our
1998 King needs 153 C-141 sorties, plus Air Force One and at least one
back-up to see Africa???
I don’t think this is exactly what our founding fathers had in mind.
Sacramento went well. We had a full house. Enough people to man an
infantry battalion and more than enough talent. They were a wonderful
audience of concerned Americans. Think I built a little fire in their
bellies and hopefully they’ll be twisting some congressional arms and
make them look into our atrophying Force. David McKie, an Annapolis man
– ’66 — and a submariner, organized the show and it was nuclear sub
perfect. Thank you, Dave and thanks to all the wonderful people in
Sacramento who helped SFTT get out the word.
KEEP Five Yards,
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