Hollow Military

October 6, 1998
At a recent Senate Armed Services Committee, a number of military leaders said what most have feared for some time: the U.S. armed forces are hollowed out. Fifteen years of declining defense budgets have left the U.S. military in a very vulnerable position.

Never mind that the testimony came too late to influence the defense department appropriations. And never mind that commentators have been saying this, especially during the Clinton administration. Still, it was significant to have the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and other generals say the obvious.

The symptoms are everywhere. Military leaders talk about cannibalization of equipment to keep just a fraction of the inventory combat ready. There are charges of obsolete equipment, excessive "cross-decking" between incoming and outgoing ships, and long-deferred maintenance and modernization. Add to that a serious shortfall in pilots and others skilled troops. And a difficult time in recruiting educated, motivated replacements.

The scenario is all too reminiscent of 1979 when then-Army Chief of Staff Edward Meyer dubbed the military under President Carter a "hollow" military. Less then twenty years later we are at a critical point once again.

Former Secretary of Defense James Schlesinger says in a recent article in The National Interest that the U.S. spends just over $40 billion a year on procurement while depreciation runs over $100 billion per year. A business that was doing that in the corporate world would be headed for disaster.

The solution is to increase funding for the defense department. It's too late to do anything this year, but next year it has to be a priority. In the meantime, before November 3 ask your elected representatives if they believe we have a hollow military, and then vote accordingly.

I'm Kerby Anderson of Probe Ministries, and that's my opinion.

© 1998 Probe Ministries International