US Military Should Target National Defense

The Opinion page article ``US Needs a Bold New Vision on Defense,'' Sept. 28, clearly articulates a vision for the post-cold-war American military.

The author succinctly outlines his idea of the fundamental purpose of this nation's military: ``Instead of drilling its soldiers to refight past wars, the US military needs to retrain them for an era of still-precarious peace, to perform the highly specialized work of monitoring cease-fires and arms agreements, providing relief supplies for human and natural disasters, assisting in environmental cleanup, and mediating conflicts before they erupt into violence....''

Civilian authority should always define what purpose the military is expected to serve in the context of national strategy. There is no doubt about what the author expects of this military; but unfortunately none of those missions serves national defense. Perhaps some of the missions might be adequately served by the future legions availing themselves to the president's national service initiative.

The US does not maintain sole superpower status because of its lofty democratic principles and humanitarian largess. Our status is due to our political and economic relevance. This stems in great part from our ability to project military power rapidly to any corner of the world where our national interests are threatened. Any lapse of this relevance, actual or perceived, will result in inevitable challenges to our status.

My expectations for today's military are to fight and win our nation's wars. The economic, political, and budgetary realities are that we may only be able to do this at a vastly reduced level; but when our national interests or security is threatened, we need to be trained, maintained, and ready to win. David Redding, Woodbridge, Va.

Your letters are welcome. For publication they must be signed and include your address and telephone number. Only a selection can be published, and none acknowledged. Letters should be addressed to ``Readers Write,'' and can be sent by Internet E-mail (200 word maximum) to OPED@RACHEL.CSPS.COM, by fax to 617-450-2317, or by mail to One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115.One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115.

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