National Security Debate Welcomed by The America

From: "Bruce K. Melson" <>

Subject: PRESS RELEASE: National Security Debate Welcomed by The American Legion
Date: Wed, 9 Aug 2000 20:11:11 -0500
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Press Release

SOURCE: American Legion

National Security Debate Welcomed by The American Legion

WASHINGTON, Aug. 9 /PRNewswire/ -- One day after Gov. George W. Bush criticized President Clinton for the Army's readiness problems, the Army issued a statement correcting the GOP presidential nominee. Although preferring the Pentagon stay out of politics, American Legion National Commander Al Lance welcomed the exchange as a sign that national security has become a legitimate campaign issue.

The 10th Mountain and 1st Infantry divisions are ``Not ready for duty ...,'' Bush said while accepting his party's nomination Thursday at the Republican National Convention in Philadelphia. The Army released a statement Friday disputing the statement.

``Army personnel should have issued a statement painting the big picture for the American people instead of spinning a retort with such a partisan ring to it,'' Lance said. ``Both the 10th Mountain and 1st Infantry divisions indeed were declared unprepared for battle eight months ago. They were not unfit due to the quality of the men and women in uniform; our troops are the best. Those divisions were unprepared for the same reason our entire active-duty force is losing good troops faster than it can recruit new ones: over- deployment of too small a force. I commend Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Shelton for discussing these issues on the record.

``The administration slashed military spending to the bone, reduced the active-duty force by one-third to just over 1.3 million, and over-deployed a scant force on missions of questionable relevance to national security. More than 6,000 troops receive food stamps and too many service members have no time to train for war because of peacekeeping missions. If anything good comes out of Gov. Bush's salvo -- and whatever the Gore camp will say, sooner or later -- it is the injection of national security into the campaign debate. A vigorous debate will help the voters determine which congressional and presidential candidates will be a part of the solution.'' Lance called the $288 billion defense-spending bill passed by Congress in July ``a step in the right direction.'' The measure, $4 billion more than the Clinton administration's defense budget, included a 3.7 percent military pay raise and a pharmaceutical benefit for elderly military retirees. The bill was sent to the president for his signature.

The 2.8-million member American Legion is the nation's largest veterans organization.

SOURCE: American Legion



Willie G. Dougherty
Operations Director
The National Veterans Organization of America, Inc.
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