I spent twenty eight years in the Army Reserve and am now a retired reservist. I graduated from the Army War College and taught at the United States Military Academy at West Point. I support a strong national defense. I also believe we should not send our troops into harm’s way without conducting a thorough and dispassionate analysis of the need, feasibility, and cost (both human and economic) of any proposed operation. We should not send our troops into harm’s way unless we have provided them with the best available equipment and weapons. We should not send our troops into harm’s way unless we are committed to caring for the injured and wounded and to assisting their families and the families of those who have made the ultimate sacrifice. We must carefully consider the possibility of unintended consequences. Once we decide to act, however, we should provide every resource necessary to bring a decisive resolution to the conflict.
Although I support a strong national defense, I do not support rubber-stamping military spending requests. Runaway military spending, particularly on questionable weapons systems, ultimately results in less national defense and a less robust economy.
As an Independent and retired Army Reserve officer, my thinking about our military force and the brave men and women who serve will differ from most politicians. For example, for the last 50 years we have had a “nuclear triad” consisting of bombers, submarines, and land-based nuclear weapons. Many of these weapons are many decades old and must be modernized. We will have to spend more than a trillion dollars in the coming decade to do so. That spending will mean less spending on bridges, roads, medical research, student grants and loans, and numerous other pressing needs.
Individuals such as retired Gen. James Cartwright, the former Commander of the U.S. Strategic Command and former Vice-Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, have recommended phasing out land-based ICBMs. He argues they are redundant; they have a known location so they must be used early in an incident or lost, thereby cutting down on decision time, and they must be on permanent alert, which creates a potential for cyber intrusion and unauthorized launch. While I have not reached a decision on this issue, I raise the issue because we should not blindly continue weapons systems because of inertia, because politicians want to look “strong” on national defense, or because defense contractor PACs and executives have given millions of dollars to members of Congress. As an Independent who will not accept corporate PAC money, I intend to make defense budget decisions based on the best available evidence and solely in the interests of Alaskans and our country.