Military in Decline

September 6, 2000

The latest controversy on the presidential campaign trail is whether the military is in decline. You may remember that George W. Bush alluded to this during his speech during the Republican convention. At the time, it hardly seemed like a statement you could dispute. Last week it became controversial.

I must admit that I have been surprised by the reaction. Over the last two years, I have done a number of commentaries discussing the decline of America's military. But let's revisit some of the numbers and see what we find.

I would think that everyone would admit that the U.S. would not be able to launch another Desert Storm given the present conditions. One retired general effectively said as much. He said, "It would be very difficult to launch another Desert Storm right now with other regional responsibilities." He would know since he was a former Supreme Commander of NATO forces during the Bosnian campaign.

On the Sunday talk shows, former defense secretary Dick Chaney (and current vice-presidential candidate) documented the decline. He pointed out that this administration cut troop power from 18 divisions to 12 divisions. The Navy once had 600 operative vessels, today they have 300. He also noted that 40 percent of the armed services helicopters were not combat-ready.

At the same time, the military seems to be called on to do more and more. From 1982 to 1993, there were 42 military combat deployments. From 1993 to the present, there were 116 military deployments. So if you look at the numbers, it appears that we have ordered the military into three times the combat action while the military has been cut about a third of its strength.

Is the U.S. military in decline? These are the numbers. I'll let you make up your own mind. It seems pretty clear to me.

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