George W. Bush at the Republican National Convention, in Philadelphia, August 3, 2000:
"Little more than a -- little more than a decade ago, the Cold War thawed, and with the leadership of President's Reagan and Bush, that wall came down.
But instead of seizing this moment, the Clinton-Gore administration has squandered it. We have seen a steady erosion of American power and an unsteady exercise of American influence. Our military is low on parts, pay and morale. If called on by the commander-in-chief today, two entire divisions of the Army would have to report, "Not ready for duty, sir."
This administration had its moment, they had their chance, they have not led. We will.
The world needs America's strength and leadership. And America's armed forces need better equipment, better training and better pay.
We will give our military the means to keep the peace, and we will give it one thing more: a commander-in-chief who respects our men and women in uniform and a commander-in-chief who earns their respect.
A generation shaped by Vietnam must remember the lessons of Vietnam: When America uses force in the world, the cause must be just, the goal must be clear, and the victory must be overwhelming."
George W. Bush, delivering:
The Army reportedly has a shortage of 3,000 captains and majors this year, and recently began offering them bonuses of up to $35,000 if they'd agree to remain on duty for another three years. The shortage was forecast to rise to 6,000 by 2010 as the Army tries to grow by 65,000.
Even with the offer of the cash bonus or free graduate school or their choice of assignments, the exodus of young officers continues to grow at a pace that worries commanders. The U.S. Military Academy at West Point was founded to educate career officers for the Army, and upon graduation each officer owes Uncle Sam five years on active duty. The hope is that most will remain for a full career, and historically just 28.8 percent have opted out after five years.
A total of 35 percent of the West Point Class of 2000 left the Army in 2005; 46 percent of the Class of 2001 left in 2006, and a staggering 58 percent of the Class of 2002 left active duty when their obligation expired this year.
Those figures are mirrored among officers who are commissioned through university ROTC programs, with attrition rates now at a 30-year high. The Army Reserve reports that the situation is even worse for critical ranks and specialties: The Reserve has only 58 percent of the sergeants first class it needs, 53 percent of the needed captains and 74 percent of needed majors...
[The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Michael] Mullen told the junior officers that his service dates back to the Vietnam War, and he remembers vividly how our military was broken at the end of that war, and how hard it was to repair the damage. He said he doesn’t want to see the current wars break the force again.