]]]]]]]]       MISPERCEPTIONS OF NATIONAL DEFENSE        [[[[[[[[[[[[ 
        By Admiral Pete J. Aurand (Freeman 96825AURA)    (12/27/1988)
                   [uploaded by the author]

      The concept of a free press informing a free people who elect
their government in free elections is the essence of democracy.
Being implemented by humans, it never works perfectly.
      One of the places it breaks down is in the education of the
people on the facts of what is going on in the world, locally and
globally. Sadly the press in the freest nation of all is doing a poor
job of informing its people on some of the fundamental facts of their
national defense.
      Here are some perceptions of our national defense which indicate
that the public has been poorly informed:

     Perception:   Defense spending is dominated by nuclear
                   weapons and forces.

     Fact      :   At most, 15% of the defense budget goes
                   for strategic nuclear forces.

     Perception:   America is an armed camp

     Fact      :   We have the lowest percentage of our
                   population in uniform since 1940.

     Perception:   Most of the Defense budget is spent on
                   over-priced weapon systems.

     Fact      :   The largest single defense budget item is
                   personnel.

     Perception:   Defense spending is rising rapidly and is
                   the main cause of the Federal deficit.

     Fact      :   For the last 30 years, defense spending
                   has declined as a percentage of our Gross
                   National Product, and non-defense federal
                   spending has risen rapidly. Since
                   Eisenhower's era of peace, defense has
                   dropped from about 50% to about 25% of the
                   Federal Budget.

       We buy armed forces to deter war and protect our vital
interests wherever they may be. Our resources are not, however,
unlimited. The debate on defense should not be so much on weapon
systems but on what are our truly vital interests and how much
military power is required to defend them.
       Somewhere between Kennedy's " -- we shall pay any price, bear
any burden, -- oppose any foe to assure the survival and the success
of liberty." and mindless "unilateral disarmament" lies a balance in
which our economic resources can provide military power sufficient to
support a wise and morally acceptable foreign policy. To find this
balance, the American people need more accurate information on defense
and foreign policy issues than they are now getting.

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