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Defense Department Takes Umbrage With Bush Claims of Military Unreadiness

Aired August 4, 2000 - 2:37 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

LOU WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: Is the U.S. military battle-ready? In his acceptance speech last night, George W. Bush claimed it's not. Today, the U.S. military responds.

And our military affairs correspondent Jamie McIntyre checks in with us now from the Pentagon -- Jamie.

JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN MILITARY AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, Lou, Pentagon officials, part of the Clinton administration, are taking umbrage at Governor Bush's statement that the U.S. military is low on pay, low on spare parts and low on morale. And particularly, they're taking exception to a statement that Governor Bush made that two of the Army's divisions, if called up for duty today by the commander-in- chief, would, quote, "have to report, not ready for duty, sir."

In an interview with CNN, Pentagon spokesman Ken Bacon said Governor Bush is operating on old information.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KEN BACON, DEFENSE DEPARTMENT SPOKESMAN: All 10 active duty Army divisions are ready for combat today. They're fit to fight. Six months ago, due to a split of two divisions, we did have a readiness problem. That has been cured. It was cured about six months ago. And all divisions are now ready to go. They have to be qualified to fit into our plans to be able to fight two major theater wars nearly simultaneously, a very stressful set of circumstances, but they're ready to do that and they're fully prepared.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MCINTYRE: Senior Pentagon officials, including civilian and uniformed officials, told CNN today that it is a strain for a smaller U.S. military to meet the commitments the U.S. has around the world, but that most of the problem cited by the Republicans at the convention, problems with pay, recruiting, retention, have all been addressed with the addition of billions of more dollars to the Pentagon's defense budget. They believe they've turned the corner. And they say the biggest sign that morale is up is that retention is up in all of the services. All of them are retaining more of their members, and all of the services say they'll meet their recruiting goals this year as well -- Lou.

WATERS: All right, Jamie McIntyre at the Pentagon.

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