(Des Moines, IA) Republican presidential candidate Gary Bauer on Saturday said the war in Kosovo has highlighted the need to beef-up the U.S. Military.
“We’re supposed to have a two-and-a-half war strategy, that we could fight two-and-a-half wars at the same time,” Bauer said. “We’re already running out of ammunition in a war in Kosovo. Something is deeply wrong and it ought to be a major issue in the campaign.”
Bauer said if elected, he’d commit at least $50 billion over the next six years to re-build American defenses. Among his complaints, a decrease in U.S. Army divisions and fighter air wings, a 50-percent reduction in the number of ships in the Navy’s fleet, as well as aging military hardware.
Bauer said it’s wrong that 17,000 service members are paid so little they qualify for food stamps.
“If we’re asking a son or daughter of Iowa or any other state to put themselves in harm’s way, and make all those sacrifices, they ought to be getting a salary from the American people that would allow them to not be below the poverty level,” he said.
Bauer acknowledged the military establishment is part of the problem.
“We all know there’s waste in the Pentagon, and as President, I would aggressively deal with that waste…but even the waste aside, this has still been, for almost 10 years now, every year less (defense) expenditures than the year before. When you run out of air-launch cruise missiles two weeks into the war with Kosovo, how in the world are you going to deal with communist China down the road?,” Bauer said.
Bauer made his comments in a news conference which used as a backdrop the Iowa Veterans Memorial on the statehouse grounds. Bauer said America has gone through cycles in this century where military preparedness has fallen by the wayside.
“It happened in World War I. We were shocked by Pearl Harbor in World War II. We were ill-prepared for Vietnam. The world is becoming, in its own way, more and more dangerous. We’re not going to have a lot of lead time if we get in trouble again, so I would hope this Memorial day, whether a person considers themselves a hawk or a dove, that we would all agree that America has to be more prepared in a dangerous world,” Bauer said.
Bauer has taken a leave of absence from the conservative “Family Research Council” to run for president. He served as an advisor and top bureaucrat in the Reagan Administration.