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Dukakis Favors Conventional Arms Buildup

November 14, 1987|From the Washington Post

COLLEGE STATION, Tex. — Massachusetts Gov. Michael S. Dukakis Friday called for diverting government resources from nuclear weapons to conventional military programs to beef up the nation's forces without a major increase in defense spending.

At the start of a two-day swing across the South, the candidate for the 1988 Democratic presidential nomination pledged that "my top priority as President will be to improve our conventional defense."

Dukakis called for scrapping "technological fantasies" such as President Reagan's Strategic Defense Initiative and the Midgetman missile and investing in a "conventional defense initiative" to improve U.S. military capability in Europe, improve anti-submarine warfare operations and provide additional training and supplies to U.S. forces.

Make Tanks Obsolete

"We may not be able to make nuclear weapons obsolete, but a (conventional defense initiative) might be able to make the current generation of Soviet tanks obsolete," he said.

Dukakis proposed the conventional defense initiative in a speech Friday to the Dallas Democratic Forum before flying to Texas A&M University here for a session with students.

The Dallas speech was billed as Dukakis' first devoted exclusively to defense policy.

Dukakis did not provide any spending figures for his conventional forces proposal but later said at a Dallas news conference that "I'm not talking about billions and billions. I'm talking about a reasonable amount."

Dukakis campaign aide James Steinberg said Dukakis thinks that $10 billion to $13 billion a year can be cut from the Reagan defense budget by canceling and curtailing various nuclear programs and that $2 billion to $3 billion of this should be used to beef up conventional forces.

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