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More headlines: George W. Bush on Homeland Security

(Following are older quotations. Click here for main quotations.)


Comprehensive review of military: then new spending

We have begun a comprehensive review of the US military, the state of our strategy, the structure of our forces, the priorities of our budget.

We do not know yet the exact shape of our future military, but we know the direction we must begin to travel. On land, our heavy forces will be lighter. Our light forces will be more lethal. All will be easier to deploy and to sustain. In the air, we’ll be able to strike across the world with pinpoint accuracy. On the oceans, we’ll connect information & weapons in new ways, maximizing our ability to project power over land. In space, we’ll protect our network of satellites.

All of this will require great effort and new spending. My first budget makes only a start. Before we make our full investment, we must know our exact priorities, and we will not know our priorities until the defense review is finished. That report will mark the beginning of a new defense agenda and a new strategic vision and will be the basis for allocating our defense resources

Source: Speech at Joint Forces Command headquarters, Norfolk, VA Feb 14, 2001

Military mission has become fuzzy

BUSH: If this were a spending contest, I’d come in second. I readily admit, I’m not going to grow the size of the federal government like he is. [There was a question about] deployment. It must be in the national interests. It must be in our vital interest whether we ever send troops. The mission must be clear. Soldiers must understand why we’re going. The force must be strong enough so that the mission can be accomplished. And the exit strategy needs to be well-defined. I’m concerned that we’re overdeployed around the world. You see, I think the mission has somewhat become fuzzy. Should I be fortunate enough to earn your confidence, the mission of the United States military will be to be prepared and ready to fight and win war, and therefore prevent war from happening in the first place. There may be some moments when we use our troops as peacekeepers, but not often.
Source: St. Louis debate Oct 17, 2000

Redefine how war is fought and won

Bush said that the nation has the chance to “redefine how war is fought and won in the future, and therefore we have the opportunity to redefine how the peace is kept.” He pledged to assemble military leaders to come up with a “strategic plan” for what the military of the future should look like. “We know it’s not going to look like the great American moment of Desert Storm and Desert Shield. A military of the future is not going to be that heavy, and it’s not going to be that hard to move.”
Source: Alison Mitchell, NY Times Sep 7, 2000

Make nuclear secrets (like Los Alamos) secure again

Bush today criticized the recent security lapses at the Los Alamos National Laboratory, saying “America’s nuclear security should not be a matter of lost and found.” Bush promised, “In my administration our national labs will be secure again, our vital information will be sealed again, our nuclear secrets will be safe again.” Federal officials are investigating the disappearance and reappearance at the laboratory of two computer hard drives containing nuclear secrets.
Source: Alison Mitchell, NY Times Jun 18, 2000

Maintain commitments; define new challenges

Source: GeorgeWBush.com: ‘Issues: Policy Points Overview’ Apr 2, 2000

Commander-in-Chief defines mission; Generals prepare for it

Q: What is the role of the Commander in Chief? A: The role of the commander in chief is to clearly define what the mission of the military is. The mission of the military is to fight and be able to win war, and therefore prevent war from happening in the first place. The commander in chief must let the general officers understand what the goal is and ask them to prepare a military of high morale and high standing. The Generals [decide] the best way for us to prepare our military for the mission.
Source: GOP Debate on the Larry King Show Feb 15, 2000

Top-down review to decide which programs to cancel

McCAIN [to Bush]: We don’t have unlimited funds. Is there any military programs that you would reduce spending on?

BUSH: What’s needed to happen is the top down review of the military so that there’s a strategic plan to make sure that we spend properly. I’ll give you an example of the Crusader Howitzer program, looks like it’s too heavy. It’s not lethal enough. There’s going to be a lot of programs that aren’t going to fit into the strategic plan for a long-term change of our military.

Source: GOP Debate in Manchester NH Jan 26, 2000

Lesson from Vietnam: no political wars

Our nation should be slow to engage troops. But when we do so, we must do so with ferocity. We must not go into a conflict unless we go in committed to win. We can never again ask the military to fight a political war. If America’s strategic interests are at stake, if diplomacy fails, if no other option will accomplish the objective, the Commander in Chief must define the mission and allow the military to achieve it.
Source: “A Charge to Keep”, p. 55. Dec 9, 1999

Supported Vietnam while a student in 1968, but not later

[At Yale in 1968], we discussed Vietnam, but we were more concerned with the decision each of us had to make: military service or not. I knew I would serve. Leaving the country to avoid the draft was not an option for me; I was too conservative and too traditional. My inclination was to support the government and the war until proven wrong, and that came only later, as I realized we could not explain the mission, had no exit strategy, and did not seem to be fighting to win.
Source: “A Charge to Keep”, p. 50 Dec 9, 1999

Rebuild military power to deal with world of terror

This is still a world of terror & missiles & madmen. We are challenged by aging weapons and failing intelligence. I will rebuild our military power - because a dangerous world still requires a sharpened sword. I will move quickly to defend our people and our allies against missiles and blackmail. And I will have a foreign policy with a touch of iron - driven by American values and American interests.
Source: Candidacy Announcement speech, Cedar Rapids, Iowa Jun 12, 1999

Increase military pay to increase morale

Military readiness has been a consistent drumbeat of his campaign. The proposals Bush was releasing Monday include: Increasing military pay raises by $1 billion -- or about $750 per active-duty service member. Bush also promises to boost targeted re-enlistment bonuses and the pay of specialists such as pilots, computer programmers and engineers.
Source: A.P. article in NY Times Aug 21, 2000

Restore military’s self-esteem with respect

George W. Bush urged America’s servicemen and women on Saturday to “stay in the military -- there’s a new commander in chief coming. The great nation called America will be the peacemaker. I will not retreat. We cannot retreat. I will be a commander in chief who respects the men and women in uniform and makes sure they are sent abroad only on clearly defined missions.”
Source: AP story in NY Times Aug 12, 2000

$1B more in personnel raises; more for housing too

Source: GeorgeWBush.com: ‘Issues: Policy Points Overview’ Apr 2, 2000

America must win if US troops are committed

Q: Governor, will you spend what it takes if the US is involved in a war? A: Well, let me put it to you this way: When I’m the president, we’re not going to obfuscate when it comes to foreign policy. If I ever commit troops, I’m going to do so with one thing in mind. And that’s to win. To win in a fashion that not only achieves victory, but gets us out of the theater in quick order.
Source: Republican Debate in Durham, NH Jan 6, 2000

Increase spending on military pay plus R&D

I support increased pay and better benefits and training for our citizen soldiers. Rebuilding America’s homeland defenses is an urgent priority. I support deploying antiballistic missile systems to guard against attack and blackmail. And America should modernize its military capability. by investing in research and development to make our military more suited to the needs of the twenty-first century.
Source: “A Charge to Keep”, p.239-240 Dec 9, 1999

Increase military salaries & weapons spending

Bush outlined a plan for additional spending to increase military salaries and fashion a new generation of more technologically sophisticated weaponry. Bush also said that he would conduct a thorough review of the country’s military commitments abroad, an implicit statement that he might scuttle some.
Source: NY Times, p. A18, on “Renewing America’s Purpose” Sep 24, 1999

Soldiers need a clear mission & best support possible

Those who man the lighthouse of freedom ask little of our nation in return. But what they ask our nation must provide: a coherent vision of America’s duties, a clear military mission in time of crisis, and, when sent in harm’s way, the best support and equipment our nation can supply. With these things, they never fail us. Without these things, we have failed them. Let us resolve never to multiply our missions while cutting our capabilities.
Source: Memorial Day speech, Austin TX May 31, 1999

Missile Defense System a priority, despite test failures

[Statement after the failure of the 3rd Missile Defense test]: While last night’s test is a disappointment, I remain confident that, given the right leadership, America can develop an effective missile defense system. In view of the potential threat we face from an accidental launch or an attack from a rogue nation, the United States must press forward to develop and deploy a missile defense system. Development of a missile defense system will be a priority in my Administration.
Source: Statement on Missile Defense Jul 10, 2000

SDI plan like Bush Sr.’s $63B GPALS & “Brilliant Pebbles”

Bush proposed missile defense system appears to be nearly identical to the missile shield proposed by his father in his 1991 State of the Union address. The elder Bush’s proposal was for a system to defend against an accidental Russian launch or a small volley of missiles fired by some other country. It became known at the Pentagon as GPALS, for “global protection against limited strikes.”

GPALS envisioned 750 ground-based interceptors deployed at six areas in the US, plus 1,000 space-based interceptors using “brilliant pebbles” technology, which would fire thousands of pieces of metal at an incoming warhead, like buckshot in space.

By contrast, the Clinton administration’s proposal is for a system of 100 to 250 ground-based interceptors with silos to be built in just one or two sites--Alaska and possibly North Dakota--at a cost estimated at $12.6 billion to $60 billion.A January 1992 General Accounting Office study of GPALS put its price tag in 1992 dollars at $63 billion.

Source: Walter Pincus, Washington Post, Page A1 Jun 4, 2000

Lack of details makes Bush SDI & START policy same as Gore’s

Bush portrays himself as a bold advocate of cutting the nation’s nuclear arsenal while building a bigger, better defense against enemy missiles. But Bush’s unspecified minimum number of nuclear warheads could end up being the same as the START-III goal of 2,500 agreed to by Clinton and Yeltsin. Pentagon sources are already on record as saying the 2,500 level is as low as they would want to go. It’s unlikely that a pro-defense candidate such as Bush would overrule the military chiefs. So while Bush sounds like he’s proposing substantial cuts in nuclear force levels, it could be a difference without much distinction.

It’s a similar story on national missile defense. [The Clinton-Gore program] is, essentially, the same program advocated by Bush-at least so far as can be determined from his public statements. [Bush has not] provided the details that would tell voters whether his policy on those two issues is really much different from Gore’s.

Source: CNN.com Jun 1, 2000

Increase R&D; develop new generation of weapons with SDI

Source: GeorgeWBush.com: ‘Issues: Policy Points Overview’ Apr 2, 2000

Develop SDI, even if we must breach ABM treaty

Bush said it was important enough for the US to deploy anti-ballistic missiles that he would back out of a 1972 treaty with the Russians if they did not agree to amend its provisions so that the US could pursue this course.
Source: NY Times, p. A18, on “Renewing America’s Purpose” Sep 24, 1999

Tripled funding for homeland security

We have tripled funding for homeland security and trained half a million first responders, because we are determined to protect our homeland. We are transforming our military and reforming and strengthening our intelligence services. We are staying on the offensive striking terrorists abroad so we do not have to face them here at home. And we are working to advance liberty in the broader Middle East, because freedom will bring a future of hope, and the peace we all want. And we will prevail.
Source: 2004 Republican Convention Acceptance Speech Sep 2, 2004

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George W. Bush (R,2001-2009)
Bill Clinton (D,1993-2001)
George Bush Sr. (R,1989-1993)
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Jimmy Carter (D,1977-1981)
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Richard Nixon (R,1969-1974)
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Page last updated: Jan 06, 2014