Baseball Crank
Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
April 1, 2008
POLITICS: That 70s Navy

Bret Stephens in today's WSJ notes a facet of McCain's biography that tends to get overlooked in the impact it had on his views on defense:

In a recent interview, Randy Scheunemann, who runs the McCain campaign's foreign policy shop, noted that "Vietnam had a huge impact on John." Obviously. Less obvious: "It's not about his personal experiences in the war as a POW," he said. "It's about leading a group of naval aviators [after the Vietnam war] when they had to cannibalize parts."

Mr. Scheunemann is referring to a chapter in Mr. McCain's life when in 1974 he took command of the Navy's largest naval air squadron in Jacksonville, Fla. Nearly 20 of the squadron's 50 jets had been grounded for lack of maintenance, and some hadn't flown in years. Mr. McCain eventually managed to get all his planes flying again, a professional triumph. But the condition of the post-Vietnam Navy turned out to be an abiding lesson to Mr. McCain about what happens to a defeated military.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 10:45 PM | Politics 2008 | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

The problem isn't with a defeated Navy, but with Congress. All parties, all congressmen, doesn't matter. They all love to tout how they brought new weapons systems online, how much their district got in new radars, new planes, especially sexy new planes. None of them ever fund the next year, when spare parts are needed. Ever.

Posted by: Daryl Rosenblatt at April 2, 2008 9:24 AM

So Reagan's talk about planes that couldn't fly due to "a lack of spare parts" was true after all. Who wouldthunk it?

Posted by: John Salmon at April 2, 2008 3:34 PM

It wasn't just planes. I was in the Navy from 1978 to 2004 and the late 70's and very early 80's were noted for scrounging. Scrounging for parts, fuel, and bodies. Working quality bodies were the hardest to find. We were not the employer of choice in the post-Vietnam era. At least for us regular sailors when the ship's engines stopped we just sat there in the water. I would not have wanted to fly in planes worked on by some of the folks we accepted for enlistment back then. Gravity sucks.

Posted by: largebill at April 2, 2008 9:33 PM
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