|Week of: |
May 7, 2000
|Will We Pay the Price for Freedom?
by: F.R. Duplantier
Despite this seemingly rosy assessment, Jeffrey Ranney is not sanguine about the future of the U.S. military. The co-author of a new book called Averting the Defense Train Wreck in the New Millennium, Ranney warned the House Armed Services Committee that this year "may well mark the high point of U.S. military power in the post-Cold War period. For the past decade," he explained, "the American people have enjoyed a substantial peace dividend in the form of reduced defense spending. Notwithstanding this, there is little public awareness today that the Department of Defense and Congress face an imminent crisis in defense regarding resources. This crisis is large," Ranney emphasized. "This crisis is growing. This crisis is profound. This crisis is already underway, yet the American public has been told very little."
Ranney argued that "the equipment assigned to our armed forces is reaching the end of its designed operational life -- almost at once -- and must be replaced if military capability is to be retained." He charged that "the basis for manning our armed forces -- the All-Volunteer Force concept -- is in danger of collapsing as qualified men and women are choosing not to enter into military service, and current service men and women are choosing to leave service." Ranney claimed that "annual budget levels projected in the President's military spending plans are well below what is needed to support fully the current military force."
Without increased defense spending, Ranney predicted, "the United States will face a de facto demobilization and, with it, a diminished capacity to shape and influence world events and to safeguard and protect U.S. national interests in the future. More important, lack of funds will inevitably limit our ability to provide America's soldiers, marines, sailors, and airmen with the equipment and training they will require to defeat future adversaries," he emphasized. "The consequence could be more than simply a diminution of U.S. influence abroad. The result of underfunding," Ranney warned, "could well be measured in American lives."
Chinese dissident Wei Jingsheng affirmed that fearful forecast, in an essay published in a recent issue of the Washington Times. "Today, the Chinese communists, especially the elements within the hard-line faction and the military, believe they can resist any American attack," declared Wei. "More important," he added, "they believe that they can win a limited conventional war."
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