From: Bruce Montplaisir
Back in the 1930s, Franklin D. Roosevelt established the Works Progress Administration, which was later renamed the Works Projects Administration. Almost every community in the United States had a new park, bridge or school constructed by the agency. The WPA tried to provide one paid job for all families in which the breadwinner suffered long-term unemployment. Roosevelt felt that this investment in people, while other countries were investing in war, would be to our advantage.
During the eight years of its existence, the WPA provided millions of jobs during a time of economic hardship and was liquidated in 1943 because of the low unemployment, due to the worker shortage brought about by World War II.
While the term had been used earlier, The Total Force Policy really came into being towards the end of the Vietnam war, when the United States moved away from the military draft and began relying more on the Air National Guard and the Army Reserve for combat forces.
In the 1980s, Ronald Reagan used The Total Force Policy as his version of the WPA and the United States policy for fighting the Cold War with the Union of Soviet Socialists Republics. Government spending on defense increased dramatically to stimulate the economy and to force the USSR to expand its military expenditures to the point where it would have to reduce or eliminate investment in people and infrastructure, which Reagan believed would force their system to collapse.
In 1985, when my oldest brother, David, a 30-year man in the Air Force, presented his dissertation on “The Total Force Policy: A Critical Defense Policy Issue”; they didn’t “know” this would work, but that was the plan. This was the first time the United States had fought a war without paying for it and it increased our national debt by 900%.
The Soviet Union, a collection of 15 countries, kept increasing its military spending to match the United States until its economy collapsed and the USSR dissolved on December 26, 1991.
We continue to produce armored tanks and fighter jets the military doesn’t want and can’t use, that go into storage in the desert. When we run out of storage space, we sell the excess armaments to Middle East countries at a loss. We just completed a $30 million building for the military in Afghanistan the military didn’t want, won’t be using, and it can’t even be converted over for use by Afghanistan after we leave that country.
Communities are quick to point out job loss issues if anyone proposes shutting down a plant that produces tanks, jets, missiles or other armaments the military has said they don’t want and can’t use. Controlling government expenditures are priorities for Democrats and Republicans unless controlling that cost affects their constituencies and their reelection prospects.
Lobbyists for defense contractors spend more money buying congress than any other group. Our defense spending has increased from $312 billion in 2000 to $712 billion in 2011.
Like many of the WPA projects that have served their purpose and are now due for replacement, the military arsenals being produced today will one day need to be decommissioned unless they are used to kill people and blow up buildings, bridges, pipelines and anything else that someone wants to destroy to promote their cause.
It seems like The Total Force Policy, as used by Ronald Reagan, is being used against the United States; forcing us to spend money on defense that cannot then be used to invest in people or to build roads, bridges and schools.
P.S. You may recall that in January, 1968, North Korea captured the USS Pueblo and a few weeks later North Vietnam launched the Tet offensive. In response, General William Westmoreland requested 200,000 additional troops beyond the 500,000 he had earlier requested. This was at a time when the draft was still in place and the reaction stateside was widespread opposition leading to the end of the draft and more reliance on the National Guard and Reserve troops. These reserves (Army, Navy, Marines) became the total force that could be called up at any time.