Thursday, December 19, 2002

I Heard It On NPR So It Must Be True

This morning on NPR I heard the following claim made in regard to the relative strength of the U.S. and Iraqi militaries:

"Since the Gulf War the Iraqi military has become smaller and much weaker while the U.S. military has grown stronger.

Yeah, that would have occured during the unprecedented military buildup that the Clinton administration undertook right?

From the Official Web Site of the U.S. Department of Defense:

Active Duty U.S. military personnel

Army
1990 732k
2000 482k

Navy
1990 579k
2000 373k

Marines
1990 197k
2000 173k

Air Force
1990 535k
2000 356k

Defense spending as percentage of total federal outlays
1990 23.1%
2000 15.5%

Whether you look at the number of personnel, amount of spending, number of ships, number of fighter and attack aircraft, or any other measurement the U.S. military is clearly a much smaller force than in 1990. Now you might argue that advances in technology make it a better force but to say that it is stronger is at least up for debate and when used to describe military forces the term stronger is almost always associated with larger which is the opposite of what the facts show. Good thing that pesky little things like that don't get in the way of good NPR story.

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