Retired Air Force general talks about national defense at Nacogdoches Rotary

NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - A retired Air Force major general with expertise in national defense and homeland security is making Nacogdoches home.

Retired Air Force general Mike Butchko has come home, so to speak. Years ago he met a hometown Nacogdoches girl named Kay. They got married and lived lots of places on behalf of national security.

"We have," Butchko said. "With 31 years in the air force and 4 years down at Kennedy Space Center and 6 years at the nuclear test site, yes we have, but we're small-town America."

And he's telling his neighbors we're pretty safe, too.

"The probability of any occurrence in our East Texas community is extremely low," Butchko said.

However, Butchko painted a pretty dismal picture elsewhere. He told his fellow Rotarians how countries are gaining on the U.S.

"China which is much larger than us has about 2.3 million men and women under arms, plus their reserves," Butchko said. "We have 1.3. North Korea is 1.3"

Butchko talked of the United States' slow development of new weapons.

"It took almost 20 years to develop the F-22, not because we couldn't do it faster, but because of a combination of budget, oversight, and interference," Butchko said.

And there's the old equipment.

"Their equipment is so worn out that they're leaving a lot of it," Butchko said. "They're just junking it."

Butchko also said the U.S. Defense Department has failed to modernize certain weapons systems.

"We're the only nuclear power not modernizing our nuclear weapons and delivery systems," Butchko said.

At any level, national security is a top story. You heard about it recently with all the security concern at the Super Bowl.

"In fact, the company that I just left at the nuclear test site, some of our folks were at the super bowl, providing radioactivity sensing," Butchko said.

And training at all levels continues.

"We've trained over 10,500 Texans," Butchko said. "Two of those from right here in Nacogdoches."

Butchko said the country is as safe as it can be, but will never be 100-percent protected. In addition, he said a shortage of veterans in the U.S. Congress creates less of a sense and awareness of what's needed for our national defense.

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