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September 8, 2004
The Hill: Bush Fulfilled Obligations Each Year In TANG

The Kerry campaign and the mainstream media have played up George Bush's Texas Air National Guard service, claiming for months that Bush went AWOL while transferring to Alabama after the Air Force started phasing out the F-102 he flew for years. The Hill, a DC newspaper targeted at the political elite in the nation's capitol and hardly a bastion of conservative thought (although Byron York writes for National Review), has analyzed the new data released by Bush earlier this year, and their analysis shows a much different picture than that painted by Kerry or the media:

The future president joined the Guard in May 1968. Almost immediately, he began an extended period of training. Six weeks of basic training. Fifty-three weeks of flight training. Twenty-one weeks of fighter-interceptor training.

That was 80 weeks to begin with, and there were other training periods thrown in as well. It was full-time work. By the time it was over, Bush had served nearly two years.

Not two years of weekends. Two years.

The National Guard requires its members to accumulate at least 50 points each year of service time in order to meet their obligation. Points are awarded for various kinds of duties, but the points are what matters when determining whether someone gave enough service for each year. The Hill calculates Bush's points for each year of his service (May to May):

1968: 253
1969: 340
1970: 137
1971: 112
1972: 56
1973: 56 (two months, discharged July 1973)

Bush served for five years, four months, but accumulated enough points to have covered 15 years of Guard service (over 750 points). More importantly, Bush served two years of completely active duty and two years of higher-than-normal reserve duty before scaling back, mostly due to his desire to work on Roy Blount's campaign and the phasing out of his aircraft. During his four years actively flying homeland-defense missions, he flew a notoriously cranky aircraft that hardly constituted "milk-run" duty.

Did George Bush see combat? No, a point that George Bush has often made himself. But he didn't join the TANG to be a weekend warrior, at least not for the first four years, which the media and the Kerry campaign skip over when trying to insinuate that Bush was (and is) some sort of coward. Nor does Bush make his TANG service or his youth a central qualification for his candidacy the way that Kerry had almost exclusively focused his campaign credentials on Viet Nam.

The TANG records prove that George Bush met his obligations for his National Guard service and honestly earned his honorable discharge. Now, perhaps, John Kerry will sign a 180 so that we can apply the same level of review to his records to determine if he is being honest about the service he holds out as his primary qualification for the Presidency. (via Instapundit)

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at September 8, 2004 9:40 PM

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