DEFENDING AMERICA
BY DAVID H. HACKWORTH
1 August 2000

IN SEARCH OF A PERFECT PLANK

Dick Cheney, Colin Powell and Norman Schwarzkopf are gathered in Philadelphia this week for the Republican National Convention. As these three musketeers -- who under the command of George "Poppy" Bush brought our nation its quickest, and from this eyewitness's viewpoint, most impressive military win -- try to help execute the political equivalent of Desert Storm on behalf of George "Dubbya," I hope they'll include in their platform the revitalizing of our military. A plank that will bring to the citizens of this nation a defense plan showing:

* How they intend to pick our armed forces up off the mat and make them world champs again after eight years of White House and Pentagon neglect, criminal political correctness and non-leadership -- which has done more damage to our armed forces than all of our current enemies combined.

* How they'll bring an end to mindless missions in such places as Iraq, Bosnia, Kosovo and Colombia and assure us that from 2001 forward, our forces will be used only to defend America and its interests.

* How they'll reform and streamline our Cold War force structure to meet the threats of the 21st century, starting with no longer allowing the "gee-whiz" gear that's supposedly revolutionizing our military machine to hog the budget. Instead, our tip-of-the-spear airmen, soldiers, sailors and Marines will once again be given the highest priority -- in wages and material, in combat-readiness and training -- according to the tried-and-true maxim that warriors win battles, not wonder weapons.

* How they'll recruit and retain the best and brightest leaders and grunts to serve in our active and reserve units and eliminate the Perfumed Prince generals and admirals who've forgotten our warriors and no longer set the example in their self-serving rush to scurry to the top of the promotion ladder.

* How the destructive "kinder-gentler" social experiments that have been slammed down our military's throat over the past eight years will be eliminated, and how the traditional military culture -- read warrior ethic -- that's won our battles from Yorktown to Kuwait City will be returned immediately.

* How the recommendations of the Kassebaum Commission to end combined Initial Entry Training -- boot camp -- of males and females will be implemented, and how women will be pulled from all ground combat units ASAP.

* How our nuclear arsenal will be cut by at least 50 percent, and what steps will be taken to provide these apocalyptic weapons, and facilities such as Los Alamos, with at least the same security coverage as Chelsea Clinton presently enjoys.

* How they plan to care for the millions of vets who've been victimized by the Department of Veteran Affairs' long-term neglect, wrongdoing and deceit. And how they plan to modernize and revitalize the VA, one of the most worm-eaten of U.S. government institutions.

* How they'll provide our retired professional servicemen and women -- who since 1941 in war after war put their lives on the line while suffering long separations from their loved ones -- with a comprehensive medical and health plan at least equal to those of retired lawmakers and fat-cat federal civil servants. And not forget that when our patriots enlisted to defend this country, they were contractually promised these benefits in exchange for living a life of hurts, standing downrange and being shot at by bad guys who wanted to paint them red. (Now they're in line behind recent arrivals from Third World countries, who actually receive the same level of medical benefits -- through Medicare -- as our brave and scarred.)

* How they'll expand our national cemeteries so that those who've served our country in war and peace will be provided the same military burial at the end of their journey as our most distinguished generals. And how these heroes will no longer be hustled through insulting two-bit tape recordings of taps with -- if they're lucky -- a few members of an unfunded veterans group to honor them and hand over the flag to their loved ones on behalf of a supposedly grateful nation.

Then in mid-August we can ask the Democrats in Los Angeles to show us theirs. Only then will we truly be able to make an informed decision on who should be our next commander in chief.