During his confirmation hearing on December 5th, 2006, Robert Gates said:
“The weapons that we so proudly deployed in the early 1980s, in the Reagan administration, often were developed in the Carter administration or the Ford administration or the Nixon administration. So there is a long continuity.
(…) But I would also say, just looking at it, as I understand it as a percentage of GDP defense spending, even with the cost of the war in Iraq are at a relatively low level, compared to most of post-World War II experience.
And so, I think there may be some flexibility. And in the very brief conversations that I’ve had about these matters with the president, he clearly is very interested and understands the nature of these problems as well.
So, certainly, this business of planning for the future is every bit as important as taking care of today and tomorrow. And I will make it a priority.”
as a response to this question asked by then-Senator Jim Talent:
“I think when you will find when you look at this that the procurement baseline that we have now through the FYDP is fundamentally inadequate to achieve that. And I want to know from you that this is going to be a priority of your investigations and your work if you’re confirmed and that you will fight for the necessary procurement dollars with the Office of Management and Budget, if necessary.
We have been kicking the can down the road year after year after year. And I think it’s landed right at your doorstep.
And if you would comment on that — I mean, do you have any sense of this situation? Do you realize what you’re going to be confronting? And are you prepared for that kind of a struggle?
Because if we don’t begin doing it under your stewardship, then the president a couple of terms from now is just not going to have the kind of options that he needs — he or she will need — in order to be able to protect America’s security.”
When Gates conceded that “planning for the future is as important as taking care of today[‘s environment]”, then-Senator Talent said:
“If not more so. And let me just say that what we were able to achieve with the end of the Cold War, winning in Desert Storm, I think came directly or sprang directly from decisions made by the president and the Congress at the beginning of the Reagan administration on a bipartisan basis to sustain, I believe it was two double-digit increases in the top line.
If we have that kind of a commitment, it is possible to plan. You can do a transformation intelligently. You can do it efficiently.
If every year we’re robbing Peter to pay Paul, every year putting the absolutely urgent ahead of the important, it ends up costing the taxpayers more and imperils American security.”
Yet, since he was (wrongly) confirmed by the Senate, Gates has been robbing Peter to pay Paul. He has been cutting and closing crucial weapon programs and reducing the force structure to inadequate levels, and refusing to finance military requirements for next-generation equipment, to pay for 2 unnecessary wars of country-building (the Iraqi war and the Afghan war). He has implemented these defense cuts in order to pay for something else.
Even if these wars were justified, Gates shouldn’t have done so. Recapitalization of the equipment of the US military and preparing the military for future wars (a task Gates derisively calls “next-war-itis”) are necessary tasks that should never be neglected; they are as important as winning necessary wars; they must be fully paid for by the DOD.
But the Iraqi war was never justified, and the Afghan war is no longer necessary because whether the Taleban reconquer Afghanistan or not would not make a difference for the US. America’s southern border is widely open, and the Obama Administration has refused to enforce American laws, so terrorists don’t need a sanctuary in Afghanistan, because they have one in the US border region. And over that border, they can smuggle anything. If fighting terrorists is the point, the DOD should start securing America’s southern border, and not irrelevant countries like Afghanistan.
Yet, since he has been confirmed as SECDEF, Gates has been reducing or closing crucial weapon programs (including the F-22, ABL, MKV, KEI, GBI, F-35, Zumwalt class, AC-X and CSAR-X programs), refusing to start programs for the next generation of weapons (e.g. a new generation bomber program) and cutting the force structure (including the fighterplane fleet) to pay for the Iraqi war and the Afghan war.