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New Foreign Affairs Article by Bob Gates: Reprogramming the Pentagon for a New Age

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Thrill Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-05-08 03:02 PM
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New Foreign Affairs Article by Bob Gates: Reprogramming the Pentagon for a New Age
The defining principle of the Pentagon's new National Defense Strategy is balance. The United States cannot expect to eliminate national security risks through higher defense budgets, to do everything and buy everything. The Department of Defense must set priorities and consider inescapable tradeoffs and opportunity costs.

The strategy strives for balance in three areas: between trying to prevail in current conflicts and preparing for other contingencies, between institutionalizing capabilities such as counterinsurgency and foreign military assistance and maintaining the United States' existing conventional and strategic technological edge against other military forces, and between retaining those cultural traits that have made the U.S. armed forces successful and shedding those that hamper their ability to do what needs to be done.

UNCONVENTIONAL THINKING

The United States' ability to deal with future threats will depend on its performance in current conflicts. To be blunt, to fail -- or to be seen to fail -- in either Iraq or Afghanistan would be a disastrous blow to U.S. credibility, both among friends and allies and among potential adversaries.

In Iraq, the number of U.S. combat units there will decline over time -- as it was going to do no matter who was elected president in November. Still, there will continue to be some kind of U.S. advisory and counterterrorism effort in Iraq for years to come.

In Afghanistan, as President George W. Bush announced last September, U.S. troop levels are rising, with the likelihood of more increases in the year ahead. Given its terrain, poverty, neighborhood, and tragic history, Afghanistan in many ways poses an even more complex and difficult long-term challenge than Iraq -- one that, despite a large international effort, will require a significant U.S. military and economic commitment for some time.

It would be irresponsible not to think about and prepare for the future, and the overwhelming majority of people in the Pentagon, the services, and the defense industry do just that. But we must not be so preoccupied with preparing for future conventional and strategic conflicts that we neglect to provide all the capabilities necessary to fight and win conflicts such as those the United States is in today.

Support for conventional modernization programs is deeply embedded in the Defense Department's budget, in its bureaucracy, in the defense industry, and in Congress. My fundamental concern is that there is not commensurate institutional support -- including in the Pentagon -- for the capabilities needed to win today's wars and some of their likely successors.

What is dubbed the war on terror is, in grim reality, a prolonged, worldwide irregular campaign -- a struggle between the forces of violent extremism and those of moderation. Direct military force will continue to play a role in the long-term effort against terrorists and other extremists. But over the long term, the United States cannot kill or capture its way to victory. Where possible, what the military calls kinetic operations should be subordinated to measures aimed at promoting better governance, economic programs that spur development, and efforts to address the grievances among the discontented, from whom the terrorists recruit. It will take the patient accumulation of quiet successes over a long time to discredit and defeat extremist movements and their ideologies.

More here

http://www.foreignaffairs.org/20090101faessay88103-p0/r...
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John Q. Citizen Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-05-08 03:17 PM
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1. Gates is full of crap.
"To be blunt, to fail -- or to be seen to fail -- in either Iraq or Afghanistan would be a disastrous blow to U.S. credibility, both among friends and allies and among potential adversaries."

Who will tell the Secretary that it's already too late?
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Thrill Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-05-08 03:24 PM
Response to Reply #1
2. I thought it was a very interesting article. Because he likely wrote it knowing he was going to be
staying with the new administration.

I thought people would like to know his thinking going into Obama's administration.
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John Q. Citizen Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-05-08 03:56 PM
Response to Reply #2
3. i have no problem at all with you posting it. Thanks. But I think he is full of crap, still.
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