By Steve B. Brooks

Pointing out that the United States has been in this situation before, American Legion National Commander Fang A. Wong and the organization’s National Executive Committee are calling on Congress to leave the country’s defense budget alone.

During its Spring Meetings in Indianapolis this week, the NEC unanimously passed Resolution 1, in which the Legion “demands Congress and the Administration to cease all efforts to reduce the defense budget from its current level.”

“Sixty years ago, America was engaged in a bloody and horrific war on the Korean Peninsula,” Wong told the NEC. “The war did not have to last three years, and it did not have to cost 35,000 American lives. But America was caught off guard. Following World War II, the budget-cutters decided to take the greatest military ever known and gut it. The brave men of Task Force Smith were simply outnumbered and outgunned as they faced down the hordes of North Korean soldiers that overwhelmed them in 1950.”

Now, Wong said, the country is in a similar situation. “We have pulled our forces from Iraq and are in the process of winding down in Afghanistan,” he said. “The president and his Defense Department have already announced some planned reductions in force – reductions that pale in comparison to what happens if Congress and the White House fail to agree on spending cuts and sequestration hits. While many predict that the political survival instincts of our elected leaders will require them to work together, it is a gamble that we cannot afford to lose.”

Wong urged the NEC and every member of the organization to – in this, an election year – get all political candidates to state on the record what they will do to keep the country strong.

Past National Commander/Past National Adjutant Robert W. Spanogle also urged Legionnaires to stay informed. During this year’s national convention in Indianapolis, the National Security Commission will conduct a symposium that will feature a variety of experts speaking on the Defense budget and its impact on the rest of the country. The symposium will take place Aug. 27 from 1-4:30 p.m. in Rooms 205-207 in the Indiana Convention Center.

“I encourage all of you to go back to your departments and tell your members they’re going to miss one great program if they don’t attend,” Spanogle said. “When you leave, you will truly understand the Defense budget.”