Monday, September 13, 2004

It Doesn't Take an Econometrician to Understand Reductions in Force Levels After a War Ends

But it would be nice if those who are could. Especially when they've had it explained to them several times. And by people with first hand experience (as we'll shortly see) of the time.

Let's see, if American troops were downsized from 540,000 in Vietnam in 1968--the Year George W. Bush signed up to train as a fighter pilot, and John Kerry first saw action in the Brown Water Navy--to approximately 100,000 by the Spring of 1972, that would be something along the order of 80% of the "in country" force needing to find a home...and something to do, back in the U.S. Mightn't it be a little crowded at stateside air and naval bases?

Well, let's not speculate, let's let a veteran--"Lawrence"--of the period tell us as he told the usually suspect denizens of SDJ earlier this year (and not to their good advantage, alas) the way it was:

Starting in January 1970, fighter aircraft units started to deploy back to CONUS as part of Nixon's Vietnamization program. I know. I flew my F-4 all the way back from Da Nang to MCAS El Toro, CA. (Never saw so much blue water in all my life.) Some of my contemporaries flying F-4s at the time never made it into Vietnam basically due to a lack of need for their services.
By the time 1972 arrived, we active duty F-4 jocks were really scrounging for flight time. The operations funding that buys flight hours had really been cut back by the Nixon Administration. (Yes, flight hours have to be paid for and hours in fighter aircraft are very expensive. Don't ask how much. You don't want to know.) I heard similar whining about reduced flight hour funding from others on active duty as well from air guard pilots.

So it seems to me that by 1972, GWB's squadron of the Texas Air National Guard (TANG) squadron could have cared less whether he flew or not. More flight hours for others more deserving and in need. There was a surplus of Vietnam combat pilots recently released from active duty and who were trying to fly with the Guard in hopes of building up flight hours to get on with the airlines. (I had plenty of friends in that catagory.) And, as I noted before there was a reduction in the number of flight hours available because of reduced funding.

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