Wednesday, October 01, 2008

SECDEF Gates: Uber-Salamander

Oh my stars & garters - my heart is all a-flutter.

NYT, WaPo, LATimes, Reuters, WashTimes - even GovExec are all over SECDEF Gates's (PBUH) remarks at National Defense University. WOW! Is he on target!
...Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said Monday that the military must understand the limits of combat power and its leaders must be skeptical that technology can bring order to the violent battlefield.
also cautioned against efforts at reorganizing the Pentagon around buzzwords like “transformation.” To underscore that point, he challenged those who advocate investing in smaller numbers of higher-technology weapons in a belief that war can be revolutionized, fought at long distance with American forces never getting bloodied.

“Be modest about what military force can accomplish, and what technology can accomplish,” Mr. Gates told an audience of midcareer military, Pentagon, State Department and intelligence officials at the National Defense University here.

“The advances in precision, sensor, information and satellite technology have led to extraordinary gains in what the U.S. military can do,” he said. “But also never neglect the psychological, cultural, political and human dimensions of warfare, which is inevitably tragic, inefficient and uncertain.”
Mr. Gates urged his audience to “look askance at idealized, triumphalist or ethnocentric notions of future conflict that aspire to upend the immutable principles of war.” In particular, he said, do not base a war plan on a bet that “adversaries can be cowed, shocked or awed into submission, instead of being tracked down, hilltop by hilltop, house by house, block by bloody block.”
“I have expressed frustration,” Mr. Gates said, “over the defense bureaucracy’s priorities and lack of urgency when it came to the current conflicts — that for too many in the Pentagon it has been business as usual, as opposed to a wartime footing and a wartime mentality.
"Be skeptical of systems analysis, computer models, game theories," he warned,
"Our conventional modernization programs seek a 99 percent solution in years. Stability and counterinsurgency missions -- the wars we are in -- require 75 percent solutions in months," he said.
I want to hear his speech on shipbuilding. Someone, besides Byron (shipfitters fingers are too strong) pinch me; am I dreaming?
The comments amounted to a critique of a military theory called "effects-based operations," which argues in part that the government can carefully craft military interventions to have a predictable effect.
Admiral Stavridis, please call your office.
"My fundamental concern," he said, "is that there is not commensurate institutional support -- including in the Pentagon -- for the capabilities needed to win the wars we are in and of the kinds of missions we are most likely to undertake in the future."
I believe that the Navy is starting to see this, but ohhhhh the lost years and ruined careers.

And our buddy Lolita gets a by-line too!
Still, he said he believes the U.S. government and its elected officials have learned their lesson and will avoid the kind of drastic budget cuts that followed previous military buildups for World War 2, the Korean and Vietnam wars and the Cold War.

"Experience is that ability to recognize a mistake when you make it again," Gates said. "One would hope that the fifth time around that we've learned the lesson."
See next Monday's MarStratMon for the other side of the argument.
In addition, he said, gaining the ability to fight such insurgencies cannot be considered "exotic distractions or temporary diversions. We do not have the luxury of opting out because they do not conform to preferred notions of the American way of war."

Gates also repeated his warning that the Pentagon must not succumb to what he calls "next-war-itis." The military, he said, must not be so preoccupied with preparing for future conflicts that it fails to hone short-term capabilities needed to fight and win the wars the U.S. is fighting today.

In the end, Gates said, America's ability to deal with future threats will depend on its performance in its current wars.

"To be blunt, to fail _ or to be seen to fail _ in either Iraq or Afghanistan would be a disastrous blow to our credibility," Gates said, "both among our friends and allies and among potential adversaries.
Sen. Obama or Sen. McCain - please keep this man. Can I make a shrine to him in my office with a candel or sump'n?

No comments: