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No governor needs tanks, assault helicopters, jet fighters or artillery in their respective Guards; their presence in the National Guard makes for contentious issues between the Defense Department and 50 governors. As the National Guard and Coast Guard are the only armed services with both military and law-enforcement roles, they are better situated together under DHS, where they have equal seats at the table with other DHS agencies to optimize planning and responses to crises, from hurricane relief, to civil disorder, to a post-nuclear detonation environment.

This concept is certainly radical, and the bureaucratic and political hurdles are both many and daunting. But we must not let that discourage us from transforming our National Guard for the 21st century.


Navy (Retired)


Military might

Fred Reed’s recent article “Why we fund unneeded weapons” (Business, Saturday) unfairly categorized a wide swath of Air Force capabilities as “technological dinosaurs,” haphazard offspring of capable, yet overzealous scientists and engineers. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Neither scientists nor engineers (nor defense contractors, for that matter) foist their concoctions on the military services. Instead, our four-star combatant commanders and services work together to determine the capabilities and equipment our joint-war fighters need to defeat our enemies. In fact, the integration of technological advances like space surveillance, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), cyberspace and advanced fighters is done solely to protect and support the joint ground forces.

Within this construct, incredibly smart scientists and engineers begin their work hand-in-glove with warriors from all of our services to bring unmatched joint capabilities to bear on our enemies. A perfect example of this is last summer’s successful strike on Abu Musab Zarqawi, al Qaeda’s No. 1 man in Iraq.

Interrogators pieced together clues from captured terrorists and determined where to look for this most dangerous man. Overhead, UAVs stared with an unblinking eye at Zarqawi’s potential hideouts. Intelligence analysts studied the real-time video feed, directing special forces to check out suspicious sites.

When the special forces found their prey, they passed his location on to the combatant commander who ordered a strike. Nearby F-16s, assigned that day to a different mission, were quickly rerouted to attack Zarqawi’s “safe” house. Minutes later, the first F-16 dropped its laser-guided bomb, followed immediately by a satellite-guided bomb, killing Zarqawi and sparing a ground battle.

That capability, and much more, is exactly what is needed to fight, or better yet, deter future enemies. To say the F-22 and F-35 are costly and unnecessary weapons would have been akin to commentators in the post-World War I era describing new battle tanks, B-17 bombers and P-51 fighters as costly and unneeded weapons.

Thank goodness reason prevailed. Those costly and “unnecessary” weapons helped win World War II. History has not been kind to those preparing to fight the last war.


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