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Turn the question around: Secretary Gates’s speech on the all-volunteer force October 8, 2010

Posted by Matthew Leatherman in Analysis.
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Secretary of Defense Robert Gates traveled to Duke last week with a somber, bracing message about our all-volunteer military.  The Iraq and Afghanistan wars, he rightly noted, are the longest campaign fought entirely by volunteers since the Revolutionary War.  Gates used this fact as a call to service, asking the country, “How long can these brave and broad young shoulders carry the burden that we – as a military, as a government, as a society – continue to place on them?”

This question is exactly backwards.  Rather than stress-testing our troops to see how long they can carry this burden, Gates should turn the question around to ask how long we intend to place it on their shoulders.  After all, we chose and continue to choose these missions, as well as the means by which we conduct them.  For example, as recently as last December, the President chose a manpower-heavy counterinsurgency strategy for Afghanistan, urged on by Joint Chiefs Chairman Michael Mullen and Gates himself, rather than a narrower counterterrorism approach advocated by the Vice President. Read more…


Cutting Defense: Is Bob Gates Behind the Curve? September 7, 2010

Posted by Gordon Adams in Analysis.
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This post by Gordon Adams originally appeared on Capital Gains and Games and is reprinted here.

By now much virtual ink has been devoted to the “cuts” that Secretary of Defense Robert Gates proposes in the defense budget and defense programs.  These have been treated as a clear statement of intention that DOD will contribute to the overall effort at restraining federal spending, the deficit, and the growing national debt.

In reality, the Gates strategy does not make any contribution to restraining federal spending or reducing the deficit.  And in trying to avoid cutting his budget, he is putting the Pentagon behind the curve in the growing effort to discipline the federal budget and on a collision course with other parts of federal spending and revenues.

The Gates “cuts” are nothing of the sort.  He has, to be sure, pushed hard inside the Pentagon to focus on priorities, eliminate hardware programs like the F-22 and the Army’s vehicle program (the “Future Combat System)”.  In August, he announced plans to close the Joint Forces Command in Virginia, trim other headquarters, reduce the number of military flag officers, reduce spending on contractors, and find other efficiencies in DOD. (more…)

NPR highlights Gates’ defense budget cuts August 11, 2010

Posted by Rebecca Williams in Analysis.
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On Monday, August 9th Defense Secretary Gates announced that the Pentagon will be recommending several significant changes in an effort to streamline operations and preemptively ward off political pressure to cut defense spending.  These include closing of the US Joint Forces Command and imposing a 10 percent cut reduction in funding for contract employees.

Today’s NPR Morning Edition features Budget Insight’s Gordon Adams, helping to put these cuts into context.  Click the link below to listen: