Recent developments make it possible for the United States to both strengthen its defenses and cut military spending, thus giving Congress a "peace dividend" to squabble over.
The answer is simple: Hire the East German army and the Soviet troops already in East Germany.Both are at loose ends. The East German army has no mission anymore; the Soviet troops in East Germany have no jobs or housing to go home to.
And - here's the good part - this ready-made military machine would come cheap. A Warsaw Pact dogface gets a fraction of what we pay GIs. Moreover, both armies are already fully equipped and they're right where we need them - no bothersome redeployment costs. It's just a simple matter of pointing the weapons in the other direction.
The goose-stepping would have to go, of course. No more of those May Day parades, either, where they wax the tanks and missiles and haul them through the center of town. And we'd expect a little sharper tailoring for the enlisted personnel.
Hiring the surplus troops in East Germany is a way we can kick a little aid behind the Iron Curtain. Our hard currency will go directly into the hands of the soldiers and their families instead of falling into the paws of some Kremlin bureaucrat.
Eastern Europe is already an environmental and economic mess, so holding armored maneuvers there would do little damage, and what little damage was done wouldn't cost much to put right.
Western European nations would find it reassuring to know that those Soviet troops poised on their borders were ours.
Cuts in the Pentagon budget are bound to reduce substantially the number of foot soldiers in the U.S. military. Hiring East German and Soviet armies would be a boost to the morale of the U.S. officer corps by giving them some troops to command.
It would give our officers a chance to "know thy enemy" because they'd be in charge of them.
The Red army passes out tons more ribbons and medals than the U.S. Army, and our officers may soon develop the unnatural posture of their Soviet counterparts intended to keep them from keeling over because of the weight of military jewelry.
One prospect alone would make hiring the armies in East Germany worthwhile: the sight in Congress of some red-faced flag-waver from the hinterlands demanding a Soviet army base in his district.
Certainly, the former Warsaw Pact troops, now in U.S. employ, will wonder what they're supposed to be doing, but isn't that the lot of foot soldiers the world over?