Caspar Weinburger, RIP Posted by: Dale Franks
on Saturday, April 01, 2006
The press of personal and professional business has prevented me from mentioning—and mourning—the passage of Caspar Weinburger. Although I never met him, I knew Mr. Weinburger slightly, having interviewed him over the phone a number of times for my radio show in LA in the 1990s, after he became a big shot at Forbes' magazine.
I had admired him from afar for many years, however. Mr. Weinburger was SecDef when I first enlisted in January of 1984. Of the four Secretaries of Defense under which I served, I always thought that Mr. Weinburger brought to the job a depth of concern for the serviceman that some—well, at least one—of his successors would have done well to emulate.
It is both odd and saddening to see the senior members of the Reagan Administration pass into history. It seems almost impossible that nearly two decades have passed since the end of the Reagan Years, but, there it is.
In many ways, for those of us who were on active duty, it was a grim time for much of the 1980s. The USSR was a colossus that bestrode the world. In Europe, we worked in hardened shelters, looking across the East German border at 45 divisions af tanks and mechanized infantry, 5,000 fighter aircraft, and 13,000 artillery pieces. Red Storm Rising seemed to us to be much less a matter of fiction than it was a real threat, looming over us, ready to pounce, and overcome us.
Yet, for all that, in my mind, I still remember it is as a golden time. All of it: the sense of threat, the deployments to Central America, the elevated ThreatCons, the 12 hours a day in MOPP 4 during exercises, all of it...seems like...well, it seems like it was a lot better now than it was when I was doing it. As I remember it, my primary attitude at doing that stuff at the time was, "I can't believe they're making us do this f*cking sh*t!"
Five years later...and it was all history. To a certain degree, that's why I left the military. The sense of mission was gone. Oh, it was briefly resurrected in 1990-1991 with the Gulf War, but after that, I dunno, it just seemed pointless. The threat I had trained for had evaporated. The prospect of dying on some godforsaken, gray, rain-lashed plain in Nothern Germany was gone forever...and staying in the military seemed hardly worth it, anymore.
And a respectable amount of the credit—or blame—for that goes to Cap Weinburger.
It really was a fairly small group of people who went to Washington to change a country in 1981, and ended up changing the world. Caspar Weinburger was one of them, and we are all, in some small part, lessened by his passing.
Dale I’m afraid the heat and lack of oxygen have caused brain dmage...IN NO WAY SHAPE OR FORM COULD 12 HOURS IN MOPP IV EVER BE CONSIDRED A PLEASURABLE EXPERIENCE, then or in retrospect.
You were airbase security... tough job. No desire to be on a site mapped and plotted to the centimetre and targeted for air and missile strikes, conventional and chemical. YUCK plus the desant troops waiting to pay a call. Better to be a 11-B, a hole in the ground is o much less obvious.