Inadvertent cuts to article on Richardson's defense plan left out some pluses for N.M.
This morning's article (below) on Gov. Bill Richardson's defense reorganization plan unveiled Wednesday ran in full in the print edition, but for those of you who read it online this morning, about half of the story was inadvertently cut.
Richardson campaign spokesman Tom Reynolds told the Journal (in one of the parts the online version earlier omitted) that the governor envisions a future for New Mexico's national laboratories involving more work toward developing new technologies for renewable energies.
Reynolds also said Holloman Air Force Base near Alamogordo would still be getting some F-22 Ospreys under Richardson's plan but that the governor still has reservations about the Osprey's safety, the article said.
Thursday, September 27, 2007
Gov.'s Plan Would Slash N.M. Weapons
By Jeff Jones And John Fleck
Copyright © 2007 Albuquerque Journal; Journal Staff Writers
Slashing the number of nuclear warheads by 90 percent. Cutting the nuclear weapons budget by more than half. Eliminating the nation's newest warhead.
Gov. Bill Richardson's presidential campaign Wednesday unveiled a sweeping plan to "modernize the military" and save more than $57 billion a year in the process.
Among the collateral damage would be several projects with major ties to New Mexico. In addition to cuts in nuclear programs the lifeblood of New Mexico's national labs Richardson's plan would reduce the number of F-22 Raptor fighter jets the U.S. plans to buy, cancel the CV-22 Osprey and scrub the Airborne Laser Program.
The effect of the proposed cuts on New Mexico is not clear, but they would be substantial. Los Alamos and Sandia national labs, which employ 22,000 New Mexicans, get the bulk of their funding from the nuclear weapons program.
Concerning some of the cuts, campaign spokesman Tom Reynolds said, "The governor is aware this may have an impact in New Mexico. ... We're looking beyond parochial politics with an emphasis on the greater good for the country."
His plan also proposes reducing the number of warheads from 10,000 to 1,000; slowing the Army's development of unproven future combat systems; and canceling a class of submarines.
The campaign released a two-page sketch of Richardson's defense reorganization plan Wednesday, promising more details when Richardson gives a "major" policy speech on the matter next week at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.
Reynolds said Richardson envisions using some of the estimated savings of $57.14 billion a year to beef up U.S. military special forces and intelligence agencies and re-equip National Guard troops in need of new gear due to the ongoing war in Iraq.
Reynolds said some of the savings also would go to improve health care and education at home.
This story was cut off at this point earlier in the day on the web siteOutdated Programs
The proposed changes "are cuts to outdated cold-war weapons, programs and systems," Reynolds said. "We are facing new threats. We don't have tank columns marching across Europe -- we face closely affiliated terror cells and nontraditional actors. We need a military that's prepared to face these threats."
Some of the cuts that would have direct impact in New Mexico:
Sandia National Laboratories and Los Alamos National Laboratory are heavily involved in nuclear weapons development, and the Airborne Laser is headquartered at Kirtland Air Force Base, but most of the work on the project is done in California and Kansas. Kirtland Air Force Base in Albuquerque has four of the Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft and is scheduled to get two more. Holloman Air Force Base outside Alamogordo is supposed to get up to 40 F-22s within the next five years to replace its F-117 Nighthawks and F-16 Fighting Falcons.
Reynolds said Richardson envisions the future of the national labs in New Mexico will involve more work toward developing new technologies for renewable energies.
"Our concern here is our credibility around the world," Reynolds said of the country's continued development of nuclear weapons. "Developing new nuclear weapons at home does not help our credibility negotiating with countries like Iran in terms of limiting or reducing their nuclear (plans)."
He said Holloman would still get some F-22's under Richardson's plan but added the governor believes the Osprey -- which had some fatal crashes during its development -- is unsafe.
"It's got severe design flaws. It descends too slowly, does not have the capacity to protect itself," Reynolds said. "At the end of the day, we think it puts our troops at risk."
Richardson's proposal to revamp the defense budget comes as his campaign pushes hard to set him apart from the other Democratic presidential hopefuls on their Iraq exit strategies.
His proposal would cut the country's overall nuclear weapons program, currently at $9.3 billion per year, by $5 billion, a 53 percent reduction, according to the spending outline released Wednesday.
A much more modest nuclear weapons budget cut currently proposed by the U.S. House of Representatives has drawn furious opposition from the state's political leadership, in part because of the possible loss of 3,600 New Mexico jobs.
The Richardson plan draws heavily from a defense proposal by Lawrence Korb, a former Reagan administration assistant secretary of defense now with the Center for American Progress, a progressive think tank.
Korb's proposal argues that current nuclear weapons spending levels are far too high. "During the Cold War," Korb wrote, "the U.S. spent less than $4 billion a year on average on these nuclear weapons activities. Reducing the weapons activities budget to its Cold War level ... would save nearly $5 billion."
Journal staff writer Charles Brunt contributed to this report.