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Tag: Robert Gates


U.S. defense budget needs Gates-style scrutiny

Robert Gates

This editorial appears in Wednesday’s print edition.

The Cold War ended in 1980s after leaders of the Soviet Union realized they weren’t buying more security with unsustainable military spending – just more antagonism abroad and poverty at home.

The United States isn’t in the same hole, but a growing number of defense advocates – people who genuinely care about the nation’s military strength – are recognizing that something’s got to give.

Foremost among them is Robert Gates, who’s stepping down this week as secretary of defense. Serving under both George W. Bush and Barack Obama, Gates has skillfully outmaneuvered Pentagon power blocs to kill or curb immensely expensive weapons programs – the F-22 Raptor, example – designed to fight large conventional wars.
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Pentagon study provides ammo: End ‘don’t ask’

This editorial will appear in Wednesday’s print edition.

At some point, gays will be able to serve openly in the U.S. military. The question is: Will this Congress act to make it happen?

If not, there’s a good chance the U.S. Supreme Court would ultimately force the issue. For the military’s sake, the legislative option is the better one. Policy made through the democratic process is almost always preferable to policy mandated by a court.

The new Pentagon study on gays in the military – which concludes that overturning the 17-year-old “don’t ask, don’t tell” rule will not have a long-lasting, widespread impact on effectiveness – greatly increases the likelihood that the court would find no rational basis for the policy.

A survey of 115,000 service members shows that 50 percent to 55 percent said repealing the policy would have a mixed effect or no effect at all; 15 percent to 20 percent said it would have a positive impact. Only 30 percent said ending “don’t ask” would have a negative effect. Read more »


Gates’ offense on military spending is wise defense

This editorial will appear in Friday’s print edition.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates has been kicking around the federal government long enough to know that budget cuts can happen to you or by you – but you’re better off taking the lead.

Gates this week announced that the Pentagon will trim thousands of jobs and close a major military command in Virginia as part of a plan to rein in huge post-9/11 increases in defense spending.

“The culture of endless money that has taken hold must be replaced by a culture of savings and restraint,” he said Monday.

The savings Gates proposes are significant, if only symbolically.

Shuttering the U.S. Joint Forces Command in Norfolk could cost 6,100 people – a mix of military and civilian personnel and contractors – their jobs. Gates is also looking to downsize the ranks of defense intelligence contractors by 10 percent and to thin the military’s top brass by at least 50 admirals and generals.

The belt tightening is intended to fend off attempts to slash military spending to help balance the federal budget. To date, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as national security concerns, have spared the Pentagon from budget scrutiny.

But it’s only a matter of time before Congress will have to address the defense budget if it is to get handle on deficits. Defense spending now amounts to approximately $700 billion a year. The military spends 13 times more than all civilian foreign policy agencies combined.

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