Friday, 5 March 2004

Kerry on Defence - A Pictorial Record

Normally I only post about Australian political items. But sometimes US politics directly affects us here.

Here is a list of major US military equipment items used on land in the Iraq war. It covers all the "big ticket" items, such as armoured vehicles, and combat aircraft, but not trucks, transport aircraft or bootlaces.
M1A2 Main Battle Tank. Every tank used by the US in Iraq was an M1 variant.
M2 Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicle - The US Army's primary armoured infantry carrier, which along with its externally identical cousin, the M3, saw even more service than the M1 tank.
AAV7 - The amphibious vehicle used by the US Marine Corps instead of the M2 Bradley. Much bigger, but thinner armour and less well armed.
M113 Armoured Personnel Carrier- Dating back to the Vietnam War, the M113 is now mainly used in rear support areas, as command, communications and logistics vehicles. It has many different variants, but has much thinner amour than an M2, and no main gun.
M88 Armoured Recovery Vehicle - The "tank" that brought Saddam down. Essentially just an armoured crane, used for recovering disabled vehicles, and based on a chassis nearly 50 years old (!)
F-15 Eagle The mainstay anti-aircraft fighter of the USAF. The F-15E Strike Eagle ground-attack variant did much of the most effective bombing in Iraq too.
F-16 Fighting Falcon A lighter, less-capable aircraft than the F-15, most useful when supported by more capable aircraft.
F-18 Hornet In many ways, the Naval equivalent of the F-16.
F-14 Tomcat The US Navy's F-15 equivalent, together with the F-14D "Bombcat".
A-10 Thunderbolt II Old, Ugly, Armoured, and Effective (as long as there's not much in the way of enemy fighters around)
AV-8B Harrier This unique Vertical-Take-Off-and Landing (VTOL) aircraft has proven once again that its quick-reaction when operating from forward airstrips makes it invaluable.
B-52 Superfortress Still soldiering on, moving 20+ tonnes of bombs around, just like earlier versions did in Vietnam. With Smart Bombs, much more effective, and less indiscriminate. But even the very youngest models are far older than the pilots who fly them.
B-1B Lancer The B-52 would be useless against any fighter opposition: the B-1 is much more survivable. It may not be able to hide, but being supersonic, it can run.
B-2 Spirit The B-2 is hideously expensive, but nigh invulnerable to enemy defences. It can't run, but it can hide very effectively.
F-117A Nighthawk The F-117 is like the B-2. Unlike the B-2, it's range is short, and it carries one or two bombs, not dozens.
Patriot 2 The only anti-aircraft missile used in combat to shoot down ballistic missiles. It repeatedly proved its worth protecting rear areas.
Tomahawk The "Cruise Missile", in its air- and sea-launched variants used with such great effect to supress enemy defences.
AH-64 Apache The main attack helicopter of the US Army.
AH-1 Cobra Based on a design that originally saw service 40 years ago, still in service with the US Marines.

Now here's the ones that Senator Kerry wouild have cancelled back in 1984 without replacing them.
Note:Tomahawk cut to less than 10% of current total production, not cancelled entirely.

Here's the "Black Projects" he didn't know existed.

When he did find out, here's his reaction ( quoted by Mark Steyn ) :
BRIAN WILSON: Let's shift just a moment to the talk around town and the hot topic is a package of reforms to help solve the problems in our urban areas, Los Angeles primarily among them... But the question comes, where do we find the money? I mean, even the programs they're talking about -- we're talking 2, 3, 3.5 billion dollars and these are just tough times. Where do we get that money?

SENATOR KERRY: These are not such tough times that we do not have that money available now... The truth is the B-2 bomber is a source of funding with respect to this kind of priority.

Fox Morning News, May 14th 1992
That's all military projects were to Senator Kerry in 1992, "sources of funding" to be plundered. Some of the programmes were wastes of money, like the DIVADS system. But it mattered not whether the programme was good or bad, what mattered was that it represented Dollars that could be better thrown into the bottomless pit that is Social Welfare.

Here's what's left :
It's no exaggeration to say that had Senator Kerry been successful with his programme of massive defence cuts, that the US Army of 2001 would have nothing but Vietnam-era or older equipment (and less of that), with the Marines and Air Force in little better state. No tanks. No modern armoured vehicles of any kind. No missiles to shoot down the enemy aircraft that wouldn't have had to avoid the non-existent USAF fighters. Neither the Liberation of Iraq nor the Liberation of Kuwait could have happened without friendly losses in the tens of thousands.

According to the Boston Globe, (and repeated elsewhere) Senator Kerry also wanted to cut the F-16 as well, but until I get an original source on this, I'll give him a pass. It could easily be based on mistaking his proposed cutting of the F-14 and F-15.

Also from the same article, is evidence of Kerry's 20/20 hindsight:
In retrospect, Kerry said some of his positions in those days were "ill-advised, and I think some of them are stupid in the context of the world we find ourselves in right now and the things that I've learned since then."
"I mean, you learn as you go in life," said Kerry. He characterized as "pretty responsible" his subsequent Senate voting record on defense.
Good words. Everyone makes mistakes. Perhaps not so consistently, but if he's learned from them, that's good. But call me cynical, just to check, let's look at the record, as they say in the Classics. Over, say the last 10 years, not 20.

In 1995, Voted To Freeze Defense Spending For 7 Years, Slashing Over $34 Billion From Defense. Only 27 other Senators voted with Kerry.

In 1996, Introduced Bill To Slash Defense Department Funding By $6.5 Billion. Kerry's bill had no co-sponsors and never came to a floor vote. (S. 1580, Introduced 2/29/96;

Fiscal 1996 Budget Resolution : Defense Freeze. "Harkin, D-Iowa, amendment to freeze defense spending for the next seven years and transfer the $34.8 billion in savings to education and job training." (S. Con. Res. 13, CQ Vote #181: Rejected 28-71: R 2-51; D 26-20, 5/24/95, Kerry Voted Yea)
No sign of anything learnt there. Well, what about the lamentable (but probably unavoidable) Intelligence Failure about Al Qaeda, pre-9/11?
1994: Proposed Bill To Gut $1 Billion From Intelligence And Freeze Spending For Two Major Intelligence Programs. Kerry proposed a bill cutting $1 billion from the budgets of the National Foreign Intelligence Program and from Tactical Intelligence, and freezing their budgets. The bill did not make it to a vote, but the language was later submitted (and defeated : see below) as S. Amdt. 1452 to H.R. 3759. (S. 1826, Introduced 2/3/94)

1995: Voted To Slash FBI Funding By $80 Million. (H.R. 2076, CQ Vote #480: Adopted 49-41: R 9-40; D 40-1, 9/29/95, Kerry Voted Yea)

1995: Proposed Bill Cutting $1.5 Billion From Intelligence Budget. Kerry introduced a bill that would "reduce the Intelligence budget by $300 million in each of fiscal years 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, and 2000." There were no cosponsors of Kerry's bill, which never made it to the floor for a vote. (S. 1290, Introduced 9/29/95)

1997: Kerry Questioned Growth Of Intelligence Community After Cold War. "Now that that [Cold War] struggle is over, why is it that our vast intelligence apparatus continues to grow even as Government resources for new and essential priorities fall far short of what is necessary?" (Senator John Kerry Agreeing That Critic's Concerns Be Addressed, Congressional Record, 5/1/97, p. S3891)
When His Bill Stalled In Committee, Kerry Proposed $1 Billion Cut As Amendment Instead. Kerry proposed cutting $1 billion from the National Foreign Intelligence Program and Tactical Intelligence budgets, and freezing their budgets. The amendment was defeated, with even Graham, Lieberman and Braun voting against Kerry. (Amdt. To H.R. 3759, CQ Vote #39: Rejected 20-75: R 3-37; D 17-38, 2/10/94, Kerry Voted Yea; Graham, Lieberman And Braun Voted Nay)
Here's Kerry's 20/20 hindsight again:
12 Days After 9/11: Kerry Questioned Quality Of Intelligence. "And the tragedy is, at the moment, that the single most important weapon for the United States of America is intelligence. And we are weakest, frankly, in that particular area. So it's going to take us time to be able to build up here to do this properly." (CBS's "Face The Nation" 9/23/01)
It would be unkind as well as unjust to blame Senator Kerry overmuch for 9/11, and the other attacks on the USS Cole, the previous attack on the WTC, the bombing of the Marine Barracks in Beirut..... But his propensity to channel any and all military or intelligence spending into "inner-city renewal" did nothing whatsoever to prevent a rather larger-scale inner-city redevelopment, the one at the WTC site. As a war-time President, he'd be the equal of such luminaries as Neville Chamberlain, or even Leon Blum.

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