DEFENDING AMERICA
by David H. Hackworth
19 November 1996

OVER COMMITMENT IS BREAKING OUR MILITARY MACHINE

"Never trust a draft dodger with his own Army," wrote a reader of this column from Georgia last year. Man oh man, was that retired Infantry Colonel on target!

Since Bill Clinton's been President, he hasn't seen a distant mess or a potential rumble he hasn't stuck our forces into.

Right now, U.S. troops are committed in 92 countries. Few of these forays have a thing to do with defending America.

Now Clinton's shooting for 93 by fixing to send troops to Zaire in a mission impossible operation which is as fraught with danger as it is flat none of our business.

Meanwhile, Mexican drug runners are racing across our southern border with the speed of an Olympic track team. The drug fighters in Austin, Texas said they're fighting a losing battle without much help from Washington and that our military could do a lot more to help them in their battle against drugs.

Clinton recently said, "The United States cannot and should not try to solve every problem in the world." But as usual, his words don't square with his actions.

When security advisors recommended we jump into Zaire without a clue about the enemy situation, the security problems or the conditions of the refugees -- with our forces again, as in Somalia, under the command of a United Nations general -- our President bought the deal hook, line and potential quagmire!

For four years now, Clinton and his National Security crowd have sent our forces on inappropriate and costly wild goose chases. Didn't Clinton or his inepts learn anything from their 1993 Somalia disaster where almost 500 American warriors became casualties and over $5 billion in taxpayer money was wasted?

Now the same geniuses have extended the futile mission in Bosnia. Our troops there are like the little Dutch boy with his finger in the dike. As long as their fingers are plugging up the holes, the crazies won't completely blow each other up. But in the near future, expect the violence to get worse and our forces to take more lumps.

Defense Secretary Perry now says the one-year mission plan for Bosnia was an "error in judgment." Clinton says "rebuilding the fabric of Bosnia's economic and political life is taking longer than anticipated."

Any sergeant that's pulled a month in war-torn Bosnia could have told them it will take several decades to cool things off and that even then, once we pull our finger out of the dike, the hatred and killing will gush out all over again.

This suddenly urgent need to extend the mission is pure BS. Since last spring, soldiers have been telling me they were going to go to Bosnia in November -- which I passed on to you months ago right here in this space.

Perry says "I was wrong" about Bosnia. So what's new? The man hasn't been right about one damn thing since becoming the Pentagon's head man -- and the other security whiz kids share his lousy batting average.

These fools have pushed our warriors to the breaking point. Our troops are stretched so thin they're almost replacing themselves on station. Morale is rock bottom. I haven't heard more bitching since the Vietnam War.

The top generals and admirals are not sounding off about this madness because they hope the missions stop the dreaded downsizing, justify the size of their services and protect their slices of the defense budget.

Clinton's off to Asia. While he's away from Washington, let's pray he picks a new security team that has common sense, experience and knows a thing or two about why we have an armed force.

He'd be wise if he picked four warriors -- a Marine Gunnery Sergeant, an Army Parachute Sergeant, a Navy Chief Petty Officer, and an Air Force Sergeant -- as his personal war counsel.