Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Secretary Gates and Bureaucracy

From his speech at Maxwell-Gunther AFB:
This new set of realities and requirements have meant a wrenching set of changes for our military establishment that until recently was almost completely oriented toward winning the big battles and the big wars. Based on my experience at CIA, at Texas A&M and now the Department of Defense, it is clear to me that the culture of any large organization takes a long time to change, and the really tough part is preserving those elements of the culture that strengthen the institution and motivate the people in it, while shedding those elements of the culture that are barriers to progress and achieving the mission.

All of the services must examine their cultures critically if we are to have the capabilities relevant and necessary to overcome the most likely threats America will face in the years to come.

For example, the Army that went over the berm about five years ago was, in its basic organization and assumptions, essentially a smaller version of the Fulda Gap force that expelled Saddam Hussein from Kuwait a decade prior. As I've told Army gatherings, the lessons learned and capabilities built from Iraq and Afghanistan campaigns need to be institutionalized into the service's core doctrine, funding priorities and personnel policies. And that is taking place, although we must always guard against falling into past historical patterns where, if bureaucratic nature takes its course, these kinds of irregular capabilities tend to slide to the margins. ...

[After discussing counter-insurgency and unmanned aerial vehicles...]But in my view, we can do and we should do more to meet the needs of men and women fighting in the current conflicts while their outcome may still be in doubt. My concern is that our services are still not moving aggressively in wartime to provide resources needed now on the battlefield. I've been wrestling for months to get more intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance assets into the theater. Because people were stuck in old ways of doing business, it's been like pulling teeth.
In a way it's ironic that Gates is carrying this message. He won a certain amount of infamy among the left during the late 80's when he was at the CIA for being very skeptical of the reality of the changes in the USSR.

But the bit about UAV's reminds me of an article in Washington Monthly--if I remember correctly it pointed out that Israel had done well with them, some individuals in the US were interested and developing versions, but the armed forces were resisting. Perhaps it even took a Congressional earmark to push their development.

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