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'Price of Staying Strong'

February 25, 1986

I would like to comment on your editorial (Feb. 4), "Price of Staying Strong."

With respect to the problems of the federal budget deficit and your statement that "restraints on defense spending will be required," it seems to me that the tenor of your entire editorial is prejudiced in your assumption that there is all of this magic fat in our defense program.

Let me remind you that the first order of responsibility placed upon the national government is to defend our people, our liberty and freedom. Therefore, it would be more appropriate to err on the side of caution in this regard--better too much than too little. Therefore, the first question to be answered is: Are we adequately defended?

You are certainly correct in stating "Which programs to reduce or eliminate is a matter of judgment." Should we weaken our defense by cutting any programs in the face of Soviet military capabilities and obvious intransigence?

You make the observation that "settling for a 12-carrier instead of 15-carrier Navy would open the way for large five-year savings" is obviously correct, but the premise is positively ludicrous. There is more than sufficient evidence available to clearly mandate a 19-carrier battle group capability in order to have sufficient forces available to win a war against the Soviets.

As to the comment "If the Administration considers the 600-ship Navy sacrosanct, then it must make larger cuts elsewhere." There you go again, mandating a cut in defense. Your editorial begs a naivete that is out of place in a newspaper that can influence so many less informed than some of your readers are in matters military.

I must concur with Secretary of Defense Caspar W. Weinberger who in a recent speech said that the nation is entering a period in which national strategy may be held hostage to the accountant's pencil, in which the design for reduced deficit and domestic comfort overwhelms our common sense, narrows our prospective and compels us to shrink from our obligation to resist the most tyrannical force in the world.

Finally, to take more money out of the taxpayers' pockets is not the solution. The solution is to continue to cut away at domestic spending programs. As you are well aware, with exceptions granted, domestic spending programs continue their growth. The major effect of the President's tax programs in 1981 was to reduce the size of the increase.

KARL O. BERGHEER

Newport Beach

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