George W. Bush on Defense

Bush’s stated military service record is incorrect

Five months after the Globe first reported discrepancies [in Bush’s military service record], Bush’s biography on his presidential campaign Web site remains unchanged, stating that he served as a pilot in the Texas Guard from 1968 to 1973.

In fact, Bush only flew from June 1970 until April 1972. That month he ceased flying altogether, two years before his military commitment ended, an unusual step that has left some veteran fighter pilots puzzled.

A group of Vietnam veterans recently offered a $3,500 reward for anyone who can verify Bush’s claim that he performed service at a Montgomery air guard unit in 1972, when Bush was temporarily in Alabama working on a political campaign. So far, no one has come forward.

A Bush campaign spokesman acknowledged last week that he knows of no witnesses who can attest to Bush’s attendance at drills after he returned to Houston in late 1972 and before his early release from the Guard in September 1973.

Source: Walter V. Robinson, Boston Globe, p. A14 Oct 31, 2000

AWOL in Air Guard? Maybe not, but didn’t meet obligations

There is strong evidence that Bush performed no military service, as was required, when he moved from Houston to Alabama to work on a US Senate campaign from May to November 1972. There are no records of any service and the commanding officer of the unit Bush was assigned to said he never saw him. Bush was suspended from flight duty for not taking his annual flight physical.

The Bush campaign’s initial explanation for the lapse “incomplete records,” it now admits, was wrong. An Air Reserve official said last week that they now believe that Bush met minimum drill requirements before his discharge.

The result is that Bush’s discharge was “honorable.” Other current and retired Air Force officers said Bush’s military records are much like those of countless other Guardsmen at the time: guardsmen who lost interest in their units, and commanders who found it easier to muster them out than hold them to a commitment many made to avoid Vietnam.

Source: Walter V. Robinson, Boston Globe, p. A14 Oct 31, 2000

Military mission has become fuzzy

BUSH: If this were a spending contest, I’d come in second. I readily admit, I’m not going to grow the size of the federal government like he is. [There was a question about] deployment. It must be in the national interests. It must be in our vital interest whether we ever send troops. The mission must be clear. Soldiers must understand why we’re going. The force must be strong enough so that the mission can be accomplished. And the exit strategy needs to be well-defined. I’m concerned that we’re overdeployed around the world. You see, I think the mission has somewhat become fuzzy. Should I be fortunate enough to earn your confidence, the mission of the United States military will be to be prepared and ready to fight and win war, and therefore prevent war from happening in the first place. There may be some moments when we use our troops as peacekeepers, but not often.
Source: St. Louis debate Oct 17, 2000

Opposed Somalia intervention when it became nation-building

Somalia started off as a humanitarian mission then changed into a nation-building mission and that’s where the mission went wrong. The mission was changed. And as a result, our nation paid a price, and so I don’t think our troops ought to be used for what’s called nation building. I think our troops ought to be used to fight and win war. I think our troops ought to be used to help overthrow a dictator when it’s in our best interests. But in this case, it was a nation-building exercise.
Source: Presidential Debate at Wake Forest University Oct 11, 2000

Be world’s peacemaker instead of world’s policeman

I want to rebuild our military to keep the peace. I want to have a strong hand when it comes to the US and world affairs. I don’t want to try to put our troops in all places at all times. I don’t want to be the world’s policeman. I want to be the world’s peacemaker by having a military of high morale and a military that’s well-equipped. I want to have antiballistic missile systems to protect ourselves and our allies from a rogue nation that may try to hold us hostage or blackmail a friend.
Source: Presidential debate, Boston MA Oct 3, 2000

Rebuild military so it can fulfill mission to prevent war

I believe the role of the military is to fight and win war and, therefore, prevent war from happening. And so I take my responsibility seriously. And it starts with making sure we rebuild our military. Morale in today’s military is low. We’re having trouble meeting recruiting goals. Some of our troops are not well-equipped. I believe we’re overextended in too many places. I want to rebuild the military power. It starts with a billion dollar pay raise for the men and women who wear the uniform to make sure our troops are well-housed and well-equipped; bonus plans to keep some of our high-skilled folks in the services; and a commander in chief who clearly sets the mission.
Source: Presidential debate, Boston MA Oct 3, 2000

Redefine how war is fought and won

Bush said that the nation has the chance to “redefine how war is fought and won in the future, and therefore we have the opportunity to redefine how the peace is kept.” He pledged to assemble military leaders to come up with a “strategic plan” for what the military of the future should look like. “We know it’s not going to look like the great American moment of Desert Storm and Desert Shield. A military of the future is not going to be that heavy, and it’s not going to be that hard to move.”
Source: Alison Mitchell, NY Times Sep 7, 2000

Bush says military not ready; Pentagon disagrees

Despite Pentagon assurances that all of the U.S. Army’s divisions are “fit to fight and ready to deploy,” Republican presidential nominee George W. Bush refused Friday to concede that the U.S. military is combat-ready. “No, I would not concede that necessarily. I’m amazed that they would put out a statement right after our convention” The U.S. Army said Friday that Bush was wrong when he said in his speech Thursday night to the Republican National Convention that two of the Army’s 10 divisions were not ready to fight. Bush had said: “If called on by the commander-in-chief today, two entire divisions of the Army would have to report ‘Not ready for duty, sir.’” But Maj. Thomas Collins, an Army spokesman, told CNN: “All 10 Army divisions are combat-ready, fully able to meet their war-fighting mission.”
Source: Aug 4, 2000

Post-Vietnam: just cause; clear goal; overwhelming victory

A generation shaped by Vietnam must remember the lessons of Vietnam. When America uses force in the world, the cause must be just, the goal must be clear, and the victory must be overwhelming.

I will work to reduce nuclear weapons and nuclear tension in the world -- to turn these years of influence into decades of peace. And my administration will deploy missile defenses to guard against attack and blackmail. Now is the time, not to defend outdated treaties, but to defend the American people.

Source: Speech to Republican National Convention Aug 3, 2000

Lowest possible number of nukes consistent with security

Bush proposed building a defensive system that would cover all 50 states and could be extended to protect allies in Europe, the Mideast & Asia. In addition to the possibility of large unilateral arms cuts, he said most American nuclear weapons should be removed from hair-trigger alert status. Bush said he wanted to reduce the size of the US nuclear arsenal to the “lowest possible number consistent with our national security” and below the levels called for under the Start II accord with Russia.
Source: Katharine Q. Seelye, New York Times May 28, 2000

Post-Cold War: remove weapons & high-alert; build SDI

Two weeks before President Clinton travels to Moscow for a US-Russia summit, Bush called for unilateral reductions in America’s nuclear arsenal at the same time as the US moves ahead with a robust national missile-defense system. Bush refused to say how many more weapons he would cut; nor did he say what the US could do to calm Russia’s fears of a new multibillion-dollar race to build anti-missile systems.

Bush accused Clinton and Gore of being “locked in a Cold War mentality.” Bush said, “The premises of Cold War nuclear targeting should no longer dictate the size of our arsenal.” He also said the US should “remove as many weapons as possible from high-alert, hair-trigger status.”

Bush was hesitant to use the politically-charged word “unilateral” when calling for reductions, saying instead that the US should “lead by example,” and that he would “work closely with the Russians to convince them to do the same.”

Source: Carla Anne Robbins, Wall Street Journal, p. A4 May 24, 2000

Deter terrorists by counterstrikes & counterintelligence

Source: ‘Issues: Policy Points Overview’ Apr 2, 2000

Use arms to defend Europe, Far East, Mideast, & Panama

Q: When would you use arms?
A: When it’s in our national strategic interests. Europe is in our national strategic interests. The Far East is in our national strategic interests. Our own hemisphere is in our national strategic interests. The Middle East-protecting Israel is in our national strategic interests. If somebody tries to block passage through the Panama Canal, I would make sure it remains open for trade. It’s in our interests to have a hemisphere that is peaceful and open for trade
Source: GOP Debate on the Larry King Show Feb 15, 2000

Top-down review to decide which programs to cancel

McCAIN [to Bush]: We don’t have unlimited funds. Is there any military programs that you would reduce spending on?

BUSH: What’s needed to happen is the top down review of the military so that there’s a strategic plan to make sure that we spend properly. I’ll give you an example of the Crusader Howitzer program, looks like it’s too heavy. It’s not lethal enough. There’s going to be a lot of programs that aren’t going to fit into the strategic plan for a long-term change of our military.

Source: GOP Debate in Manchester NH Jan 26, 2000

US military is key to preserving world peace

Outside of America’s borders the world is a freer and safer place [than when we grew up]. We must always remember the importance of a strong military, a strong United States of America, to preserve world peace.
Source: Powell Lecture Series, Texas A&M Univ. Apr 6, 1998

George W. Bush on Military Personnel

Spend money on soldiers before sending them to hot spots

Q: What is the proper role for the military?

GORE: The US has to be strong in order to promote peace and stability. We need to make sure that our personnel are adequately paid and that their pay is comparable to the competition from the private sector. I have supported the largest pay raise in many a year. I support another one now. I also support modernization of our tactical weaponry. I think one of the ways we’ve been able to be so successful in Kosovo and other places is by having the technological edge. Now, readiness. I propose $100 billion for this purpose.

BUSH: We have an opportunity to use the great technology of the United States to make our military lighter, harder to find, more lethal. We have an opportunity to keep the peace. I’m going to ask the secretary of defense to develop a plan so we’re making sure we’re not spending our money on political projects, but on projects to make sure our soldiers are well-paid, well-housed and have the best equipment in the world.

Source: (X-ref Gore) St. Louis debate Oct 17, 2000

Gays in military OK; “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” OK

Q: Do you support the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy on gays in the military?

A: I support the current ‘Don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy crafted by General Colin Powell regarding homosexuals in the military. We are blessed and fortunate to have had so many men and women fight so valiantly for our liberties in America. I respect and admire anyone who has served in any branch of our military and put his or her life on the line for our freedom.

Source: Associated Press Sep 6, 2000

Increase military pay to increase morale

Military readiness has been a consistent drumbeat of his campaign. The proposals Bush was releasing Monday include: Increasing military pay raises by $1 billion -- or about $750 per active-duty service member. Bush also promises to boost targeted re-enlistment bonuses and the pay of specialists such as pilots, computer programmers and engineers.
Source: A.P. article in NY Times Aug 21, 2000

Better equipment, better training, and better pay

The world needs America’s strength and leadership, and America’s armed forces need better equipment, better training, and better pay. We will give our military the means to keep the peace, and we will give it one thing more: a commander-in-chief who respects our men and women in uniform, and a commander-in-chief who earns their respect.
Source: Speech to Republican National Convention Aug 3, 2000

$1B more for salary; $20B more for R&D for new weapons

Saying we have “asked our servicemen and women to do too much with too little,” Bush today promoted his agenda for rebuilding America’s military by improving troop morale and investing in research and development. “Even the highest morale is eventually undermined by back-to-back deployments, poor pay, shortages of spare parts and equipment, and rapidly declining readiness. I make this pledge to our men and women in arms: As President, I will preserve American power for American interests. And I will treat American soldiers with the dignity and respect they have earned.“