- The Washington Times - Friday, September 8, 2000

DAYTON, Ohio Retired Gens. Colin Powell and Norman Schwarzkopf, war heroes from the presidency of George W. Bush's father, campaigned with the Republican nominee yesterday and criticized the Clinton-Gore administration for a decline in military readiness.
"Readiness is not just equipment," Gen. Schwarzkopf told an audience at Wright State University. "Readiness is people. And we have somebody [Mr. Bush] who is going to step up and has clearly recognized the problem."
Gen. Powell told a group of veterans at a VFW post in Westland, Mich., earlier yesterday that Mr. Bush is more committed than Vice President Al Gore to rebuilding the U.S. armed forces.
"It's time to face the reality that we have given our wonderful military force too many missions that we are not prepared to fund them for," Gen. Powell said.
Mr. Bush has made increased military spending a cornerstone of his campaign. In recent weeks, Mr. Bush and his running mate, former Defense Secretary Richard B. Cheney, have emphasized the military's lack of preparedness, raising accusations from the White House that the Republican ticket was disparaging U.S. troops.
Gen. Powell, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff who served under Mr. Cheney in Desert Storm, came to his defense yesterday.
"I was shocked and deeply disappointed when the president's spokesman attacked Dick Cheney because he dared to tell the truth about the state of readiness," Gen. Powell said to loud applause. "Dick Cheney has never attacked the military. The ones who are attacking the military are those who pretend everything is OK.
"They want to pretend junior officers are not leaving at an alarming rate," Gen. Powell continued. "They want to play 'let's pretend' that our aircraft operating levels … haven't been dropping precipitously in recent years. They want to play 'let's pretend' that Army training centers are not complaining that they can't do the mission anymore because they're underresourced. The time for pretending is over. The ones you can't fool are the troops."
The news of underfunded Army training centers was first reported last week by The Washington Times.
While the heroes of Desert Storm agreed on their choice of presidential candidate, they appeared to differ slightly on when military cutbacks started.
Gen. Powell said reductions in military spending began under his watch, during the administration of former President George Bush and Mr. Cheney.
"We recognized that we could responsibly cut the size of our armed forces, and we did that," Gen. Powell said. "We put our armed forces in a decline to go down to a new level that was appropriate for the times. The new administration went below that level and continued cutting. It's too late, and they're not investing enough."
Gen. Schwarzkopf simply cited a "draconian downgrade" in the military after Desert Storm without laying blame at either administration's feet.
Mr. Bush told the audience in Dayton that the signs of erosion in military power are "disturbing."
"Recruitment goals are not being met," he said. "There's a shortage of equipment."
He pledged to increase military pay by $1 billion, as well as spend more on military housing and veterans' benefits. And he said if elected, he would order a task force to review immediately the overseas deployments of U.S. armed forces.
"We cannot be all things to all people," Mr. Bush said. "We must be peacemakers, not peacekeepers."

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