Sunday, April 20, 2014
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
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Our leaders have little military know-how

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From page A5 | November 20, 2013 | 3 Comments

The issue: Lawmakers taking over from the World War II and Vietnam generations soon will be tested

Congress is facing a worrisome deficit of military expertise in its ranks.

The long-standing cadre of legislative and military veterans who ran the congressional armed services committees are dying off or retiring, leaving their places to be filled by legislators with little or no military experience.

IN DECEMBER, Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, the one-armed Medal of Honor winner who chaired both the Senate Appropriations Committee and its defense subcommittee, died. Last month, Rep. Bill Young, R-Fla., the chairman of the House defense appropriations subcommittee, also died. Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., the last World War II veteran in Congress, died as well. Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, says he will not seek re-election next year.

The departures are being called “a defense brain drain.”

Their replacements represent “a startling and rapid descent of knowledge by sitting members of Congress,” said Mackenzie Eaglen, a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, who must deal with a full-time military that places a premium on professional training.

Once, having served in the military was almost a prerequisite for election to Congress, but the current Congress, the 113th, has only 106 veterans among its 535 House and Senate members.

According to figures cited by The New York Times, the Senate will have 18 veterans, down from a peak of 81 in 1977, and the House will have 88 veterans, down from a high of 347 that same year.

THE CURRENT collective lack of experience is perhaps best represented by the lawmakers’ inability to deal with the problems bedeviling the military caused by the sequester. The flat, across-the-board budget cuts were mandated by the Budget Control Act of 2011, a crude attempt at budgetary self-discipline that most members of Congress never meant to become actual law.

The lawmakers taking over from the World War II and Vietnam generations soon will be tested when it comes time to pay for the U.S. relief expedition to the typhoon-devastated Philippines. With a carrier fleet and two amphibious warships, it won’t be cheap.

“You are not going to see just Marines and a few planes and some helicopters. You will see the entire Pacific Command respond to this crisis,” said Brig. Gen. Paul Kennedy, the Marine officer in charge of the U.S. relief effort.

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Discussion | 3 comments

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  • S.TrotterNovember 20, 2013 - 3:45 pm

    I've made it a point in my lifetime to NEVER vote for a candidate who has military in his background. I oppose war, I oppose even one of my tax dollars going to support the egregious activities of war, I am opposed to supporting a standing army....as were a few of our past presidents, beginning with Pres. Washington. I think he knew the dangers of that. Americans need to wakeup to those dangers.

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  • November 20, 2013 - 6:46 pm

    So who was gonna stop Hitler in WWII, or Stalin in Korea? Your local florist?

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  • November 20, 2013 - 7:39 pm

    Well, let's see now....Hitler's Generals turned on him and were trying to do away with him towards the end of WWII, and Stalin deported Koreans back to Korea, but never went into Korea to take it over, so I'm a bit perplexed by that statement. When this was happening, Korea was still an entity of the Japanese, I believe.

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