When President Clinton’s own political toadies in the Defense Department begin telling you America is virtually helpless to defend itself and its vital interests around the world, it’s past time to pay attention to the crisis at hand.

And that’s just what is happening — finally.

Last week, Army News Service reported that General Dennis J. Reimer says the U.S. Army “is as small as it can go” and still be able to perform to perform myriad worldwide missions.

“Increased deployments coupled with the drawdown have created a feeling of uncertainty without our soldiers,” Reimer said. “Soldiers are asking, ‘When is this going to stop?'”

A few days earlier, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Henry H. Shelton and his four-star service chiefs, including Reimer, testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee, telling its members about eroding U.S. military effectiveness caused by post-Cold war cutbacks.

The real problem, of course, is that Clinton is demanding far more of our military forces than they are capable of giving. Army operations, for instance, have increased 300 percent since the fall of the Berlin Wall. We have troops in Asia, Haiti, Somalia, the Balkans and elsewhere — all keeping the peace for the United Nations.

I guess that’s what we should expect when you elect an unrepentant draft dodger who loathes the military to be the commander-in-chief.

Reimer and Shelton are, if anything, overly optimistic in their assessment of current military readiness. Reimer told Congress that he still believes the U.S. can fight and win a “two-war” scenario. Lots of other military experts think he’s nuts and wonder whether we could even win one major conflict at a time.

I tend to believe a real soldier, Col. David Hackworth, the most decorated U.S. military man of the Vietnam era. He wrote a blistering open letter to Clinton this week attacking the military’s misguided priorities.

“In 52 years of hanging around soldiers, I have seldom seen the cutting edge of our fighting forces so dull, nor morale lower,” he wrote. “The last time it fell so badly was during the Vietnam War. This gutting of American arms has happened on your watch, and it’s not because there’s not enough money. Since Desert Storm, combat effectiveness has gone downhill like an out-of-control freight train even though we now spend 18 cents of every taxpayer dollar on defense. The $300 billion a year we spend on war-fighting and intelligence is more than adequate, especially when you consider that our forces today are 30 percent smaller than they were in 1991 and there’s no real enemy in sight. If you divide all these defense dollars by the number of true warriors — those who actually engage in combat — our forces are getting more money per head in 1997 than during the most dangerous period of the Cold War.”

Hackworth continues: “I know you have never served, nor have any of your close civilian advisers, so it would be only natural for you to believe what you’re told by the chairman of the JCS (joint chiefs of staff), General Shelton. It could be, Mr. President, that you have fallen for the propaganda from a general who’s become part of the Military Industrial Congressional Complex and who has long forgotten what happens down in the trenches.”

Hackworth raises a series of excellent questions that should be addressed not only to Clinton but to every member of Congress:

  • Why are there more colonels than machine gunners in the U.S. Army?

  • Why are there 150,000 military personnel hunkered down around Washington, DC, when infantry platoons, who close with the enemy, are uniformly 30 to 40 percent under strength?

  • Why does NATO have 44 U.S. Army generals in Europe when we have but four fighting brigades there? This is roughly one general per rifle/tank company.

  • Why do the top generals and admirals in NATO have plush villas and fat staffs which require millions of dollars per year to support, while many of our warriors live in tin trailers and can’t make it without food stamps?

“Sure we have 1.4 million military personnel on the books,” continues Hackworth, “but we have only 29,000 trigger pullers — the indispensable riflemen who put holes in enemy soldiers. Your politically correct civilian defense chiefs have eviscerated our force with their constant politicking, treating the profession of arms as though it were an 8 to 5 operation like the Post Office, rather than one whose life-and-death mission is to defend America.”

Nobody says it better than Hack.

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