The Secretary of Defense gave a speech at West Point that surely bummed out the student body:
Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, in one of his last addresses to the Army, said Friday that he envisages a future ground force that will be smaller, pack less heavy firepower and will not engage in large-scale counter-insurgency wars like those in Iraq or Afghanistan.
“In my opinion, any future defense secretary who advises the president to again send a big American land army into Asia or into the Middle East or Africa should ‘have his head examined,’ as General MacArthur so delicately put it,” Gates quipped.
Gates, who is expected to leave his post later this year, predicted a greater role for the Navy and Air Force in the future and warned the Army to gird itself for a period of relative austerity compared with the gusher of defense spending that has sustained it over the past eight years. In particular, Gates suggested that the Army will have a tough time justifying its spending on heavy armor formations – which have been the core of its force for decades – to lawmakers and the White House.
“In the competition for tight defense dollars, the Army … must confront the reality that the most plausible, high-end scenarios for the U.S. military are primarily naval and air engagements – whether in Asia, the Persian Gulf or elsewhere,” he said.
The defense chief predicted that Army and Marine forces would increasingly be asked to focus more on short-duration counterterrorism strikes and disaster relief. As he has for the past several years, Gates called on the Army to devote more of its best personnel to training and equipping foreign militaries.
So you’re a senior at West Point, having survived plebe year and basic training and officer training and a rigorous college curriculum, and you’re finally ready to start your military career, eager to serve your country and make your mark. Whereupon the Secretary of Defense comes to campus and announces and you’re told that the army is getting its budget and its firepower cut, that your future is in training foreign armies, and that the important assignments are all going to the Air Force and the Navy.
Hasn’t the Sec-Def ever heard of ceremonial speeches? Or motivational speeches? Even if this is going to be the administration’s new policy, why break the news in a speech at West Point?
At any rate, what do you think of this new military strategy?