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Letters to the Editor. Defense and strategic planning

Daniel Charles and John Pike's column had some very valid points [``Europe, too, tilts at windmills,'' Feb. 3]. Yet they stated that if NATO could destroy 25 percent of every Warsaw Pact air force combat mission, soon the pilots would refuse to fly! The most recent example disproving this was in the Falkland Islands war. Despite the fact that the Argentine Air Force was being slowly obliterated (it still has not fully recovered, and probably won't for another 10 years), its pilots, even the green ones, still flew against the British fleet.

Other examples can be seen in Syria and Egypt against the Israeli Air Force. The North Koreans vs. the US Air Force. And the Japanese and Germans against the Allied air forces in the latter days of World War II. All of them flew till they had no more planes left to fly, not because of some kind of pilot ``strike.'' To assume that any air force anywhere would stop flying simply because of the casualty rate is ridiculous. Lee Stevens Indianapolis

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The letters of Colonels Greenhow and Holmberg [Feb. 4] in response to my commentary on Jan. 2 on reorganization of the Joint Chiefs of Staff seem to confirm rather than disprove the concern I expressed that we could be creating a ``Prussian General Staff.''

Greenhow blames all of the military failures of the past 40 years on ``politically motivated politicians,'' exactly as the old German Imperial General Staff was wont to do. Yet, to cite only one instance, the miserable state of the first troops we sent to Korea in 1950 in terms of physical condition, discipline, and tactical training had nothing to do with the fact that civilian leadership had failed to provide the overall resources needed. To say that the American military is capable of the arrogance born of naivet'e that sees a pure and noble military forever being misled and even betrayed by ``politicians'' is not ``insulting,'' as Holmberg would have it; it is recognizing that our military people are just as human as anyone else's.

It is the unanimous opinion of the former defense secretaries, chairman of the JCS, and presidential national-security advisers who testified before Senator Tower's committee, 1982-83, that we have had no means of conducting national strategic planning since President John F. Kennedy abolished the group that President Dwight D. Eisenhower had established within the National Security Council to conduct such planning. The results seem to speak for themselves. William V. Kennedy Mechanicsburg, Pa.

Letters are welcome. Only a selection can be published, subject to condensation, and none acknowledged. Please address to ``readers write.''

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