Gates Reflects On 60 Years of Modern Military, DoD Effectiveness
By John J. Kruzel
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Sep. 18, 2007 Six decades ago, the United States’ armed forces were retrofitted to better face challenges that emerged after World War II, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said today in a memorandum honoring servicemembers and civilians in support of U.S. missions through the years.
The National Security Act of 1947 gave shape to the modern Defense Department. Sixty years ago yesterday, James V. Forrestal -- Gates’ earliest predecessor -- was sworn in as the first secretary of defense.
“On this 60th anniversary it is fitting that we recognize our vital military establishment and the men and women of the Department, military and civilian, who have served us so well and are so deserving of the respect and gratitude of the nation,” Gates wrote in the memorandum.
To strengthen bonds between service branches, the act placed the Army, Navy and the newly-created Air Force departments, plus the Joint Chiefs of Staff, under the defense secretary. Gates said increasing cooperation among branches remained a constant theme as the Defense Department has evolved to a present-day posture that relies heavily on joint operations.
Today, the Defense Department is the largest U.S. government institution and serves as the nation’s “ultimate protector,” Gates said. Able people working within a sound organizational structure are responsible for the department’s effectiveness, he said.
“In answering the nation’s call to duty, whether at home in response to natural disasters or abroad in the defense of freedom, the Department of Defense has always been a ‘can do’ institution that has risen to the many and varied challenges of its complex and indispensable mission,” Gates said.
The secretary lauded the exemplary work of prior military members and Defense Department personnel.
“As we reflect on the past sixty years,” he said, “let us resolve to honor the memory of those who came before us by recommitting ourselves to ever greater levels of military effectiveness and efficiency for this department in service to the nation.”