WAR OF THE PORKERS
BY DAVID H. HACKWORTH
Taxpayers alert! Man your battle stations! There's a war going on within the continental
limits of the USA!
The battle lines are set. George-the-younger has tasked a civilian Pentagon team
led by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to boot our armed forces into the 21st
century. But the retired and serving generals and admirals and most members of
Congress aren't having any of it. They're dug in, dedicated to defending the status
quo, along with their pet projects. Over the past 50 years, the Cold War has made
so many of them and their collaborators so filthy rich that they don't want anything
Change, such as shutting down both unneeded bases and factories still making weapons
to fight the last war, brings pain. Not only will cushy, high-paying jobs no longer
be graft for the grabbing when the brass check out to cash in, but the federal
pols will lose votes from jobless defense workers, as well as all the campaign
contributions tied to protecting the military-industrial-congressional complex.
The defenders are saying the Bushies are neglecting the lessons of history --
that they're only into radical change because the gee-whiz high-tech Star Wars
weaponry they want is a con to pay off their own favorite defense contractors
and other backers whose deep pockets got them into office last January.
The committees Rumsfeld set up to provide a blueprint for his new look have done
their thing with time-tested military finesse: dragged their heels, agreed to
disagree, leaked their proposals and recommended each of their services get even
more guns and gadgets. For example:
* The Navy now wants 34 carriers -- it had 15 at the height of the Cold War --
and reckons that the Army should have no more than two fighting divisions.
* The Army wants 40,000 more soldiers to reinforce its 10 regular divisions so
it can handle its mission, whatever that is. It also wants $7 billion for a new
fleet of armored cars that can be knocked out by World War I .50-caliber machine-gun
bullets. And once it has its new fleet of thin-skinned chariots, it guarantees
it can then do what the Marines are already doing so well.
* The Air Force wants a trillion-buck bunch of new fighters. Then, it says, everyone
else can fold up their tents because it'll be able to do the job all alone. Just
as they did in the Serbian War, when billions of bucks in bombs delivered by thousands
of fighter/bomber sorties destroyed less than a company of Serb armor vehicles.
* The Marine brass just wants their beloved Osprey hybrid helicopter, which has,
in the past decade, done three things well: crashed, burned and caused its top
guys to look like a bunch of liars.
Now Rumsfeld's Raiders are threatening there'll be blood flowing in the corridors
of the Pentagon if the brass don't stop leaking to Congress and start following
orders. But even if that happens, Rumsfeld has one slight problem: No one at the
top has bothered to examine or prioritize the threats we face. How can a force
be built if no one has worked out what will be coming at our troops or nation?
Will our soldiers be fighting Chinese pandas with paint guns? Will the Army's
new armored tin cans be up for a mini Desert Storm?
Meanwhile, even though we have a capacity "second to none," according
to President Bush, our leader spent almost his entire visit to Europe last week
bunkered down, hiding from a handful of terrorists -- doing the same duck-and-weave
as our muscle-bound Marines, Army and Navy forces in the Gulf, who've been hiding
behind barricades from Osama bin Laden for weeks.
Rumsfeld's right that our armed forces need streamlining. He needs to crack some
brass-hat heads together and start taking gold watches back from the retired generals
and admirals whose misplaced loyalty to their former services and perks gained
'round the revolving door have caused them to forget their oath to our country.
But first the SecDef needs to ask what sergeants have been asking for centuries:
"Captain, what's the enemy threat, and what's my mission?" When Rumsfeld
gets that strategic answer, he'll be on his way to knowing how to defend America.
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(c) 2001 David H. Hackworth
Distributed by King Features Syndicate Inc.