In her April 3 letter, Sen. Barbara Mikulski confuses the issues by arguing about National Guard combat units rather than the rear-echelon odds and ends that the Defense Department no longer wants. In fact, nobody thus far has advocated the cutting of National Guard combat strength.
Senator Mikulski says that "the annual operating cost of a light infantry division is reportedly $400 million for an active unit but only $103 million for an Army National Guard unit."
These two things are incomparable. The active division is prepared to fight tomorrow, whereas the National Guard division needs at least a year of training. The elapsed time between the huge First Army maneuvers in 1940 and the landing of our local 29th Division on Omaha Beach was four years.
Meanwhile, I had metamorphosed from sergeant to infantry captain, having graduated from four officers' schools, besides helping to train the reservists and draftees needed to bring a peacetime unit to wartime strength and ability (technical, tactical and physical).
I was not unique. Is this an argument against the National Guard? Of course not. Without National Guard combat divisions, we could not hope to fight a major war. But such divisions are almost useless in a sudden emergency on the other side of the world. For one thing, young men just snatched from offices and )) shops are not yet physically conditioned for the hardships to be endured.
What the National Guard provides is a skeleton crew of citizens willing to learn, fight and lead. Without them, the armed forces when committed to a major war would collapse in a year or so.
Willis Case Rowe
It's the Bus
H. Ross Perot's passengers want to put their man in the driver's seat. Haven't they deduced that after several consecutive in-the-ditch drivers maybe it's the bus that's broke?
Quentin D. Davis
What Maryland Republicans Deserve
The 1992 legislative session wasn't even over before Ellen Sauerbrey mailed you her semi-annual letter on "Why the State of Maryland Owes a Debt of Gratitude to the Republican Party."
Faced with a deficit estimated as high as three-quarters of a billion dollars, neither party has covered itself with glory, but only the Republicans have seen fit to nominate themselves for some sort of award. Delegate Sauerbrey wants us to know that her party, deprived of a budgetary staff, chipped in to assemble a makeshift staff of analysts who enabled state Republicans to cast "the defining vote of the year, if not the entire four-year term," putting forth a proposal that "approached the budget from an entirely different perspective."
It sure did. Oh, how I wish you would publish the party's Jan. 16 "Balanced Budget Proposal" so that everyone in the state could get a closer look at what Delegate Sauerbrey calls her party's crowing achievement. The document lists proposals under three headings:
"State Grants and Contributions," "Program Modifications or Eliminations" and "Possibilities to Reduce Payroll Costs." Of the 59 separate proposals grouped under these three headings, the party has no idea of the potential savings of 32.
And what do they list among these proposals? Well, they want the state to eliminate multicolored letterhead envelopes; they also think we could save some money if we removed the cover sheet from faxes. They also want to eliminate out-of-state conferences and seminars. (Does anyone in the state have expertise in any particular field?)
It will remain our little secret. Is there anything we could learn from someone out of state? We'll write for it, on plain stationery, or fax for it without a cover.)
She wants professional dues reduced by two-thirds (do any of our institutions belong to national accrediting agencies? Maybe the agencies will accredit for free). They want to deep-six driver's ed programs; they want to suspend legislative scholarships. And they want to cut by 1.5 percent the salaries of any state employee making over $50,000. (Have you put in 25 or 30 years working for the state? Are you two or three years from retirement? Step aside while the Republican Party, which prides itself on being the party of the American Dream, slices your pension.)
The bickering Democrats are due their own measure of contempt this year, but they pale before the GOP, which has used the state fiscal crisis to fashion a combination of the petty, the spiteful and the downright destructive and somehow thinks it deserves a vote of thanks from Marylanders everywhere for doing so.
Delegate Sauerbrey, your party doesn't deserve a pat on the back; it deserves a much more forceful blow a lot lower.
George S. Friedman
Lay Off Hedgehogs
As self-appointed head of the Hedgehog Appreciation Society, I object most strongly to the aspersions cast upon that ++ lovable and useful creature in Esther Nash's letter of March 31, "Too Dumb to Serve?"