By Sarah Nixon
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Thursday October 24, 2002
Jim Kolbe visited campus bright and early yesterday to speak to nearly 400 ROTC members about why he supports a U.S. war against Iraq.
The forum, held at 6 a.m., came two weeks after Kolbe and fellow members of Congress voted 296 to 133 to give President Bush power to initiate military force on Iraq.
"It makes my heart heavy knowing some of the faces I'm looking at may see combat," Kolbe said.
He added that none of his colleagues relished the moment that granted President Bush the power to wage war.
These are frightening and difficult times as our nation faces an enemy, Saddam Hussein, who possesses weapons of mass destruction and is capable of bio-terrorism warfare, Kolbe said.
"Hussein is an enemy our country couldn't have imagined when I was in your place. We haven't experienced or seen anything equivalent," Kolbe said.
Kolbe, an alumnus of Northwestern University's ROTC Navy program, told members of the Air Force, Army, Marine Corps. and Navy programs that there is no better way to "grow-up, in the broadest sense," than by spending time in the ROTC or in the reserves.
"Congressman Kolbe spoke about the pride that these midshipmen and cadets should take in their upcoming service to the United States," said Lt. Stephen Galayda, U.S. Naval Reserves.
Kolbe is a veteran of Vietnam who joined the Naval Reserve after finishing a master's degree in economics from Stanford. He told ROTC members that no job is more honorable than defending one's country.
Kolbe also emphasized the threat Hussein has posed in the past and the danger he still presents today.
After Desert Storm, U.S. inspectors found that Hussein was three to four years away from creating a nuclear weapon, Kolbe said.
"We haven't had an inspector in Iraq for the past four years," Kolbe said.
Everyone hopes that conflict can be avoided, and the best way to accomplish that is to adopt a strong, unequivocal stand against our enemy, Kolbe said. The consequences of no action are far worse than sending troops to combat, he added.
Following Kolbe's half-hour talk, ROTC members asked several questions.
Individual UA cadre weren't allowed to speak to the Wildcat.
Two cadets asked questions about how the United States would fight a war with Iraq with shrinking military ranks.
Officials in Congress estimate the U.S. would need fewer troops for a war with Iraq than were deployed in Operation Desert Storm, Kolbe said.
Congress has started thinking of military might more in terms of quality of technology, rather than the number of military personnel on reserve, he added.
"We have a more effective, more powerful military now than ever before," Kolbe said. "We are the fear and the envy for nations of the world."
As a gesture of thanks for his appearance, the UA ROTC presented Kolbe with a clock.