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Reserves Highlight Best About Our Military

"New Roles for America's Weekend Warriors" (Jan. 6), is highly relevant to the United States' post-cold-war defense establishment. As funding for national defense decreases, full-time regular forces (across the services) would like to eliminate their reserve components.

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But members of the reserves highlight the best about our military. Those of us who serve in the reserves have our feet in both military and civilian communities. We have a better appreciation of what dedicated and professional public service is all about. Many of us bring years of active duty experience to national defense. If anything, reservists have a better clue about national defense than our professional colleagues.

When military units and missions are disestablished, the uncertainty of funding or even existence causes many active duty commands to hoard mission-related work and opportunities in the name of self-preservation. Training, recruiting, mission opportunities, and funding are correspondingly reduced, and reserve unit readiness suffers along with morale. Worst of all, our valuable long-term experience is wasted. Reserve service is one of many ways to give back to one's homeland. It's an expression of protection for loved ones, neighbors, and fellow citizens.

It's beginning to appear that the reserves are too easily misused to be left to the management of active duty cadres. The US is largely unique in that reserve military service lies at the heart of our identity as a self-governing nation. "Professionalization" and consolidation may be efficient to the Beltway establishment, but most of us know just how out of step Washington is.

Robert H. Brandon

Antioch, Tenn.

Clinton's global legacy

"Clinton Rushes to Craft Global Legacy" (Dec. 29), mentions the importance of free-trade negotiating authority (fast track) to President Clinton's agenda. Irony abounds in the fact that the legacy Clinton has impressively crafted in domestic economic policy lacks components essential to political viability of his aspirations in foreign economic policy.

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A healthy economy in the US is vital to the viability of a successful free-trade policy, but not enough. The president needs to commit to ensuring that a free-trade policy advantageous to the nation is advantageous to each state.

He should pledge close liaison with all 50 governors in pursuing this objective. The legacy he may think he has guaranteed in domestic policy does not yet suffice for ensuring the legacy he yearns for in foreign policy.

David J. Steinberg

Alexandria, Va.

Rage over rivers

Regarding "US River Project Polarizes West" (Dec. 26), about President Clinton's nomination of Yellowstone River to be included in the American Heritage Rivers program: Kathleen McGinty, who heads the Council on Environmental Quality, is quoted as saying, "It is just incomprehensible why there has arisen some opposition to this program, which is 100 percent voluntary." In addition, T.H. Watkins of Montana State University says he believes opposition to the project is based on "the supposition that if Clinton is involved it must be bad." These people need to visit rural America to talk to those whose livelihoods and property rights are affected by such programs.

Conflict over the American Heritage Rivers program will occur wherever a river is nominated, not just in the West. Opposition is based on history - that such programs have little to do with helping the environment, and everything to do with government officials controlling how citizens use their property.

Y. Leon Favreau

Shelburne, N.H.


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