Friday, July 24, 2009

SecDef Gates on the future of the military

I have my problems with the President's handling of domestic issues, but I'm generally pretty happy with the foreign policy scene--and perhaps Obama's best move so far has been listening to Gates. It looks like some things are happening under Obama that Gates probably wanted to do under Bush but couldn't. This is a speech the SecDef gave recently at the Economic Club of Chicago:

But other nations have learned from the experience of Saddam Hussein's military in the first and second Gulf wars - that it is ill-advised, if not suicidal, to fight a conventional war head-to-head against the United States: fighter-to-fighter, ship-to-ship, tank-to-tank. They also learned from a bankrupted Soviet Union not to try to outspend us or match our overall capabilities. Instead, they are developing asymmetric means that take advantage of new technologies - and our vulnerabilities - to disrupt our lines of communication and our freedom of movement, to deny us access, and to narrow our military options and strategic choices.

At the same time, insurgents or militias are acquiring or seeking precision weapons, sophisticated communications, cyber capabilities, and even weapons of mass destruction. The Lebanese extremist group Hezbollah currently has more rockets and high-end munitions - many quite sophisticated and accurate - than all but a handful of countries. [snip]

We must also get control of what is called "requirements creep" - where more features and capabilities are added to a given piece of equipment, often to the point of absurdity. The most flamboyant example of this phenomenon is the new presidential helicopter - what President Obama referred to as defense procurement "run amok." Once the analysis and requirements were done, we ended up with a helicopter that cost nearly half a billion dollars each and enabled the president to, among other things, cook dinner while in flight under nuclear attack. [snip]

To this end, the president's budget request cut, curtailed, or ended a number of conventional modernization programs - satellites, ground vehicles, helicopters, fighters - that were either performing poorly or in excess to real-world needs. Conversely, future-oriented programs where the U.S. was relatively underinvested were accelerated or received more funding.
For example, we must sustain and continually improve our specialized strategic deterrent to ensure that our - and our allies' - security is always protected against nuclear-armed adversaries. In an initiative little noticed, the President's program includes money to begin a new generation of ballistic missile submarines and nearly $700 million in additional funds to secure and assure America's nuclear deterrent.
Cutting the F-22 budget got some media attention but it looks like that's just the tip of the iceberg. I am impressed with the way Gates thinks and I'm pleased that Obama is listening.
Rock Is Dead. Long Live Scissors!
"The presentation or 'gift' of the Holy Ghost simply confers upon a man the right to receive at any time, when he is worthy of it and desires it, the power and light of truth of the Holy Ghost, although he may often be left to his own spirit and judgment." --Joseph F. Smith (manual, p. 69)

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