President Clinton's "systematic destruction of our armed forces and his lack of concern for old warriors and their spouses" are pushing the United States military's readiness and morale into a "death spiral," a retired admiral said Saturday.

Retired Rear Admiral Jeremy Taylor told a group of other retired military people and their spouses that Clinton's "aggressive foreign policy" for peacekeeping in Bosnia is costing about $150 million per month and Persian Gulf operations are costing three times that."And none of this is in either the budget for the rest of 1998 or all of 1999. There is a shortfall that the president has simply passed to Congress to fix that amounts to more than $1.3 billion to fix fiscal year 1998 and as much as as $7 billion to fix the fiscal year 1999 budget," he said.

Taylor was the keynote speaker at a Military Retiree Healthcare Fair and Symposium at Hill Air Force Base. Much of the day's activities included telling people what services are available for them, but Taylor warned that, among other things, health care for military retirees could be dramatically shortchanged.

"The problem is the defense budget has been reduced every year since 1985 - 14 years in a row - and procurement of new equipment (modernization in Pentagonese) and research and development have been sacrificed for several years in order to fund the operations and maintenance accounts," he said.

But even the operations and maintenance accounts have been cut, he said, which means military readiness has been reduced and such things as medical services for retirees have also been toned down.

"All this is leading to a collapse of our armed forces that few have the will to address," he said, adding that senior military officers who dared to speak out have had their careers cut short.

"Mark these words: Without a reversal in these patterns, we will see the return of the hollow, disconsolate force we last saw under President Jimmy Carter in 1979," Taylor said.

Taylor urged the audience to set aside money every month for postage and write letters every week to elected officials to bring about change.