The Best Defense

The Gates files (III): Fights with the Air Force, DOD personnel officials, the VFW

  • Gates came to believe that extending the tours of soldiers in Iraq carried a huge cost. "I believe those long tours significantly aggravated post-traumatic stress and contributed to a growing number of suicides." (This made me wonder if there has been a study looking to see if there is a correlation between Army suicides and the duration of tours. I asked around with some smart guys and couldn't find any.)
  • One reason he cancelled parts of the ballistic missile defense program: They "simply couldn't pass the giggle test."
  • PowerPoint was "the bane of my existence in Pentagon meetings." But he didn't ban them, as other senior officials have done. (And they also said, send me the slides ahead of time and I will read them -- but I won't sit in the dark while you read them to me.)
  • Why he was skeptical of the Air Force's bid to control drone capacity: "The Air Force was grasping for absolute control of a capability for which it had little enthusiasm in the first place."
  • He came to loathe the office of the Pentagon's undersecretary for personnel and readiness. "Virtually every issue I wanted to tackle ... encountered active opposition, passive resistance or just plain bureaucratic obduracy from P&R."
  • The VFW and the American Legion were major pains. "The organization were focused on doing everything possible to advantage veterans, so much so that those still on active duty seemed to be of secondary importance."
  • The problem with generals: "In war, boldness, adaptability, creativity, sometimes ignoring the rules, risk taking, and ruthlessness are essential for success. These are not characteristics that will get an officer very far in peacetime."
  • (And still more to come...)

Cherie Cullen/OSD Public Affairs/DVIDS

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