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Patching up the Air Force

One item in the news which really grabs us in the midst of Reaganomics and budget cutbacks, is the announcement that the Air Force has purchased 1,600 sets of new shoulder insignia for four-star generals.

We understand that the military forces of the United States need beefing up, but we are not so sure about beefing up the generals. The figures need explaining, because the average person knowing that there are only 13 generals in the Air Force may interpret this in one of two ways: either each general owns well over 100 uniforms, or the Air Force intends to promote 1,587 more generals. In either case, it seems a bit too student princey.

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Presumably, neither of these alternatives is true. What it boils down to is that some new trouble-shooter in the budget department discovered that insignia are cheaper by the gross and was trying to save money. Besides, there are other ways to use a four-star general's insignia besides putting them on a uniform. There are warm-up suits, tennis outfits, swim trunks and pajamas just to name a few. This may not be as much of an oversupply as it appears on first glance.

After several phone calls to Washington another possibility has surfaced, which gives us some concern. New ways of offsetting the strategic advantage of Russia in Europe are under constant discussion not only in the Pentagon but in the White House. It was suggested by a usually reliable source that generals, in some way, have become a new, secret weapon. There might well be 1,587 more of them in the works.

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