For the second time in two days the defense policies of President Carter have been attacked as inept and confusing by political foes. Republican presidential nominee Ronald Reagan, in an attack even more hard hitting than that leveled the previous day by independent John Anderson before the same gathering -- the national convention of the American Legion in Boston -- charged the present White House occupant has let US military preparedness decline.
This has helped the Soviet Union achieve superior strength and encouraged its empire-building pursuits, the GOP nominee told the legion convention Aug. 20.
The hard-hitting and warmly received Reagan talk, his third in as many days on defense and national security, set the stage for Mr. Carter's appearance Aug. 21 on the same platform. The President is expected to try to reassure the gathering of veterans concerning the nation's readiness and brand his Republican opponent as too irresponsible to be the nation's commander in chief.
Branding the Carter military policy as both confused and inconsistent, Mr. Reagan charged that allies of the US "are mystified by the on-again, off-again approach to matters of such importance to Western society.
"Even our adversaries cannot understand United States policy, and since they don't believe we understand it either, they invade Afghanistan and expand their empire," he asserted.
The President, in his zeal to win re-election, has distorted statistics on defense spending by his administration to make it appear bigger and more far reaching than is the case, Reagan said. The national security is not well served, he asserted, by a defense strategy that has brought America "from second to none to second to one."
Besides increasing US military might, the GOP presidential candidate said nuclear arms control must remain a long-range goal.
There was no hint, however, that the former California governor has shifted his stance an inch from opposition to ratification of SALT II (the strategic arms limitation treaty).
Noting that 75 percent of those in the US armed forces do not re-enlist, Reagan said a prime goal of his administration would be to raise military pay and morale. Compensation for service personnel, he said, "should be comparable to that in the private sector."
His program also would include "restoration of the GI Bill of Rights," a program offering educational and other inducements to veterans of the armed forces.
The applause-punctuated talk, like one given by Reagan Aug. 18 at the Veterans of Foreign Wars convention in Chicago, and his Aug. 19 speech to shipyard workers at Chester, Pa., stuck entirely to the US preparedness theme, which he seems likely to keep hammering away at as the presidential campaign gains momentum.