St. Louis, MO (CNSNews.com) - Governor George W. Bush's foreign policy advisor Dr. Condoleezza Rice told supporters Wednesday that American military readiness has "slipped" and "is stretched too thin" with global interventions and she faulted the Clinton-Gore administration policies for the fact that "[officers are] leaving the armed forces in droves."
Rice, the former provost at Stanford University and the Russian and Eastern European affairs specialist at the National Security Council from 1989-1991, spoke at St. Louis University Wednesday and described how Bush would conduct his foreign policy and defense affairs if elected president. She is Bush's top foreign policy advisor and would likely serve as National Security Advisor in a Bush Administration.
Rice emphasized that the United States needs to take care of its military personnel and said its preparedness "needs to be improved." She suggested a little VIP treatment for soldiers might stop so many officers and enlisted personnel from leaving early.
"[They need] better pay, better housing, equipment and a more focused mission," Rice said.
Rice maintains military records under the Clinton-Gore administration show that Air Force readiness stands at 65 percent, military captains in all branches are "leaving in droves" and that members of all military branches are underpaid and badly housed.
"The fact that we are using the National Guard and reserves for longer deployments more frequently when these are part-time soldiers means that the American armed services need to be funded better, equipped better and their mission needs to be clarified," said Rice.
Repeating a frequent Bush-Cheney campaign theme, Rice said Gore has been in office eight years and under his watch with Clinton, "[military] readiness has slipped." She said Bush would be a Commander-in-Chief "who realizes a volunteer army deserves better."
Rice said Democratic claims that Bush lacks the experience to handle foreign policy are untrue. "Americans have gotten their presidents from different places and governors have very often been terrific presidents," Rice said. "[Ronald] Reagan is just one example of a governor who was a very fine foreign policy president."
She said the skills required to be the governor of a large state like Texas also prepare that person for the presidency. "Foreign policy-making is not that different (from the choices made by a governor)" said Rice.
Rice added in a later press interview that Bush does support the Clinton White House's actions in the Middle East. Bush has stressed during the campaign that the United States is Israel's friend and supports efforts to bring peace and security to the Middle East. And she added that if Bush is elected president, he will call for expanded funding for the development of a missile defense shield for the United States.