Questioning Combat Readiness

A House group takes a gloomy look at the U.S. military machine

One of the great debates of election year 1984 has long been expected to center on President Reagan's costly demands for such new weapons systems as the MX, the B-1B bomber and the space-based Star Wars defense against nuclear attack. But last week the argument began over a much more mundane question: Are the U.S. armed forces better prepared to fight conventional wars now than when Reagan took office in 1981?

According to a 376-page report compiled by the Democratic-controlled House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense, U.S. combat readiness has declined rather...

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