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Military Establishment Takes Three Whacks at Robert Gates

Posted on Sep 7, 2011
Flickr / Security and Defense Agenda

Robert Gates, who left his role as defense secretary this summer, has drawn criticism from members of the military establishment for allegedly lacking long-term vision, allowing military leaders to usurp civilian control and inadequately briefing and preparing the president for war.

The author of the attack, Bernard I. Finel, is a senior fellow at the American Security Project, a military think tank where he directs research on counterterrorism and defense policy. Articles like his are important because they allow us to see some of what the managers of America’s empire are saying to one another. —ARK

Armed Forces Journal:

First, a defense secretary needs to manage the department effectively. This is not simply a matter of prevailing in bureaucratic battles, but rather in charting a course for the department that balances ends and means, that ensures that long-term risks are addressed as well as managing short-term challenges. One fundamental element is allocating and managing the defense budget to ensure resources are wisely expended to address the entire portfolio of risks the U.S. military might need to engage.

Second, a secretary, as the person most directly responsible for ensuring civilian control of the military, must manage civil-military relations. This involves both ensuring that military expertise is tapped to support civilian decision-making, but also that civilian control of the military remains unchallenged. It is the secretary’s responsibility, in short, to ensure that there is a solid working relationship between the military and civilian policymakers, and also to ensure that civilian control is robust.

Third, a secretary must provide sound and balanced advice to the president about military options and operations. This requires not only an ability to be responsive to the needs and desires of the president and his staff but also an ability to interject forcefully to ensure that decisions about the use of force be made with a full appreciation of both the opportunities and limitations inherent in the use of the military instrument.

In all three of these core areas, Gates was largely ineffective.

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By gerard, September 8, 2011 at 3:56 pm Link to this comment

After a decade or more of bloody murder in several countries thousands of miles away, in order to guarantee access to oil, it is an act of deliberate misdirection to address the defects of a now-retired Secretary of Defense.  Defense?

The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our Secretaries but in our trillion-dollar “defensiveness” and all the snakes that coil up out of our beloved Pentagon.

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By berniem, September 8, 2011 at 1:13 pm Link to this comment

Just as should be the case for politicians, the military should not be a life-long career and be term limited!

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By omop, September 8, 2011 at 12:44 pm Link to this comment

One would think that in his position Bernard I. Finel was irresponsible in
not making these comments…” In all three of these core areas, Gates was
largely ineffective” when Gates was the Secretary of Defense.

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PatrickHenry's avatar

By PatrickHenry, September 8, 2011 at 3:39 am Link to this comment

Oh yeah, the link to my previous post.,7340,L-4118316,00.html

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By PatrickHenry, September 8, 2011 at 3:14 am Link to this comment

Of course the MIC took whacks at Gates because he had some rather unflattering things to say to Israel and Netanyahu.

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