United States Department of Defense United States Department of Defense

News Transcript

Press Operations Bookmark and Share

Transcript


Remarks by Secretary Gates at the Command and General Staff College, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas

Presenter: Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates
May 07, 2010

                STAFF:  (In progress) -- introducing this afternoon's guest speaker, the secretary of Defense, the honorable Robert M. Gates.

                Secretary Gates was sworn in on December 18th, 2006 as the 22nd secretary of Defense.  Secretary Gates is the only secretary of Defense in U.S. history to be asked to retain that office by a newly elected president.  President Barack Obama is the eighth president Secretary Gates has served.

                Secretary Gates joined the Central Intelligence Agency in 1966 and spent nearly 27 years as an intelligence professional.  During that time, he has served as deputy director of Central Intelligence, assistant to the president and deputy of national security adviser at the White House and as the director of Central Intelligence.  He's the only career officer in CIA's history to rise from entry-level employee to director.

                Secretary Gates was also commissioned as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force in 1967 and served as an intelligence officer at the Whitman Air Force Base in Missouri.

                Before entering his present post, Secretary Gates was president of Texas A&M University.  (Cheers.)

                A native of Kansas, Secretary Gates received his bachelor's degree from the College of William and Mary, his master's degree in history from Indiana University and his doctorate in Russian and Soviet history from Georgetown University.

                Ladies and gentlemen, the secretary of Defense, the honorable Robert M. Gates.  (Applause.)

                SEC. GATES:  Good afternoon.  Thank you Kevin for the introduction.  And thank the handful of Aggies out there.  It's certainly good to be out of D.C. and back in my home state, at least for a short visit.

                Now, I do realize that it is Friday, and after lunch -- (laughter) -- so I will be content with thanking you for staying awake, or trying to anyway.

                Of course, falling asleep in a leadership class or here is one thing.  Falling asleep in a small meeting with the president of the United States is quite another.  (Laughter.)  But it happens.  I was in one Cabinet meeting with President Reagan where the president and six members of the Cabinet all fell asleep.  (Laughter.)

                The first President Bush created an award to honor the American official who most ostentatiously fell asleep in a meeting with the president.  This was not frivolous.  He evaluated candidates on three criteria.  First, duration -- (laughter) -- how long did they sleep?  Second, the depth of the sleep.  Snoring always got you extra points.  And third, the quality of recovery.  Did one just quietly open one’s eyes and return to the meeting, or did you jolt awake and maybe spill something hot in the process?  (Laughter.)

                Well, you will appreciate that the award was named for Air Force Lieutenant General Brent Scowcroft, who was the national security adviser at the time.  He was, as you might suspect, the first awardee, and, I might add, that he won many oak leaf clusters.  (Laughter.)

                Today, I wanted to share a few thoughts with you about the Army and your role in its future, before taking some questions.  

                Fort Leavenworth and the Combined Arms Center could easily be described as the intellectual center of gravity for the Army.  Just like the Army it represents, this post has undergone fundamental changes in the last decade, nine years of which we have been at war.  Gone are the days when part of your school year was spent learning to defend against an armored land invasion through the Fulda Gap.  

                This institution has adapted to our current war footing with speed and flexibility.  Leaders here have learned and explored the latest technologies and are currently using the Web, social media and other tools to rapidly turn battlefield lessons learned into usable tactics, techniques and procedures.  

                The development of the next generation of counterinsurgency doctrine under then-Lieutenant General David Petraeus is perhaps the most famous recent example.  Combining sources as diverse as David Galula, a British “Small Wars” manual from the 1890s, plus the hard-fought experience of the post-9/11 campaigns, it was used to great success during the surge in Iraq and is helping guide our strategy in Afghanistan.

                The Center for Army Lessons Learned is shouldering the herculean task of codifying and collating an enormous amount of information flowing in from the battlefield and around the world.  This information is then distilled down into products providing guidance on topics ranging from counter-IED operations to tribal customs, products that maintain our combat leaders decision-making superiority over an adaptive and implacable enemy.  

                Carrying that spirit of innovation forward, Army senior leaders have sought real-time feedback, online and off, on a range of issues, including the spectrum of current operations, the Army's force generation system and stress on the force. 

                With regard to reducing the strain on soldiers and their families, we have made some headway, but we are not where we need to be.  At the height of the Iraq war, the Army was operating at roughly a one-to-one dwell-time ratio for certain specialties while others were deploying rarely, if at all.  It was unsustainable.  As you know, the Army has now set a goal of two years at home for one year deployed for the active duty, and four-to-one for the Guard and Reserve.

                Part of the solution is increasing the pool of soldiers available to deploy.  One of my first acts as Defense secretary was to increase the end strength of the Army by 65,000 active-duty troops, and last year I later authorized a temporary increase of more than 20,000 for this high-demand period.  

                The Army has met that goal three years ahead of schedule.  With this increase and our oncoming drawdown in Iraq, we have made strides toward the goal of one-to-two, but we aren't there yet.  In reality, the current strain will probably continue at least until well into next year as the drawdown in Iraq was partially offset by the troop increase in Afghanistan, where a gradual transition to Afghan security responsibility will begin next summer.

                The increase in end strength is only half the picture.  The Army is re-balancing billets and units within and between the active and Reserve components to better reflect the capabilities needed now and in the future.  We are disbanding or reducing old Cold War-era companies, for example, air defense in the National Guard, and standing up high-demand, low-density units like Special Operations, Military Police and others.  

                All told, the Army has undergone its largest organizational transformation since World War II, and it done so with 100,000 troops continuously deployed since the beginning of the Iraq war.  

                Now, apart from prosecuting the wars, my highest priority is the continuing care of our wounded and injured.  This means ensuring that they receive world-class medical, mental and transitional support.  I remain concerned about soldiers outpatient care which has again received some less-than-flattering reviews in recent weeks.  

                General Casey and General Chiarelli, my former senior military assistant, are championing the Army's efforts to care for those suffering from post traumatic stress and traumatic brain injury, as well as comprehensive suicide prevention efforts, and doing everything possible to address and reduce the disturbing increase in suicide rates.  

                But efforts from the top aren't enough.  As military leaders, you must care for your subordinates and make sure they have the information, resources and skills they need to be successful soldiers and members of society.  Strong unit-level leadership is needed not just to prevent soldiers from ending their lives, but to open the door for them to seek help.  You must make this a visible and vocal priority within your organizations.  

                We all have our part to play to end the stigma of seeking help for mental-health issues.  If someone is struggling with what they have seen in combat or adjusting to a home environment, it is your duty to give them the support they need.  

                This care is not just for the soldier; it must extend to the family as well.  The saying you're all familiar with is still true -- you recruit a soldier, but you reenlist a family.  This year’s Defense budget includes $9 billion for family support -- child care, spousal services and housing, among others.  We also shifted money for many family support programs from supplemental war requests to the base budget to ensure that these programs won’t go away when the wars do. 

                Something that has always concerned me is that we have very good programs, but they are not taken advantage of because too often families don't know they are available.  As leaders, getting the word out about these resources is as important as knowing they exist.  

                Now, let me say a few words about the future capabilities of the Army as they relate to the evolving nature of conflict.  There has been a concern that our force is too focused on counterinsurgency and has lost its edge for complex, conventional operations involving multiple brigades or divisions.  The experiences of the British colonial army before World War I have been given as an example.  

                This is a legitimate concern, and we continue to work toward finding the right balance.  But the notion that the U.S. Army is turning into some sort of nation-building constabulary that is losing its core competencies, above all, to shoot, move and communicate, does not reflect the realities of the tough combat that has taken place in Iraq and Afghanistan, as you know all too well.  

                We are moving ahead with substantial programming and funding that supports the full spectrum of capabilities.  The Army is accelerating the development of the Warfighter Information Network and will field it along with proven and viable FCS spinoffs.  

                I remain committed to the Army's ground-vehicle modernization program, but it has to be done in a way that reflects the lessons we've learned in the last few years about war in the 21st century.

                To some extent, much of the debate between low-end and high-end misses the point.  The black-and-white distinction between conventional war and irregular war is becoming less relevant in the real world.  Possessing the ability to annihilate other militaries is no guarantee we can achieve our strategic goals, a point driven home especially in Iraq.  

                The future will be even more complex, where conflict most likely will range across a broad range, a broad spectrum of operations and lethality, where even near-peer competitors will use irregular or asymmetric tactics and non-state actors may have weapons of mass destruction or sophisticated missiles.

                So, even as you institutionalize what we have learned about counterinsurgency, the CGSC must also be at the forefront of thinking ahead to future conflicts that will traverse that broad spectrum of operations.  You must develop the analysis, doctrine, strategy and tactics needed for success in 21st century conflicts that are likely to be very different from 20th century conflicts and different from conflicts we are in now.  

                You must continue to be the visionaries, the pathfinders, the intellectual cutting edge of the Army.

                As we prepare for the future and pursue modernization plans, we must also always recognize the limits of technology and be modest about what military force alone can accomplish.  Advances in precision, sensor information and satellite technologies have led to extraordinary gains that will continue to give the U.S. military an edge over its adversaries.  

                But no one should ever neglect the psychological, cultural, political and human dimensions of war or succumb to the techno-optimism that has muddled strategic thinking in the past.  

                That is especially true for the ground services, which will be in the lead for and bear the brunt of irregular and hybrid campaigns in the future.  We must never forget the brutal truth spoken by General Joseph Vinegar Joe Stillwell when he wrote, “No matter how a war starts, it ends in mud.  It has to be slugged out.  There are no trick solutions or cheap shortcuts.”  

                Nor can we forget the harsh reality expressed in Anton Myrers classic novel of WWII, Once an Eagle.  He wrote, “Once the eminent heads of state in all their infinite wisdom decide that war must be, once the drums begin to beat, there is nothing ahead but fear and waste and misery and desolation.  Nothing else.  Once the engine has started, it must shudder and rumble to the very end of its hellish course, come what may.”  And the ground forces will bear the brunt of that reality.

                The success of the Army and the security of our country in this environment will be based to a large extent on men and women like you.  As students at Command and General Staff College, roughly 80 percent of you have combat experience, and more than half of you have multiple tours.  This makes your class one of the most heavily deployed, combat-tested groups of officers in military history.  

                You are the next generation of forged Iron Majors going into operations or executive officer positions, some of the most important and pivotal jobs in the Army, charged with executing your commanders operational vision, mentoring the next generation of junior officers and applying lessons learned in the classroom and on the battlefield.  This next assignment for you cannot just be mastering the art of PowerPoint, moving the military decision-making process along and presenting your three required courses of action.  

                I encourage you to keep the entrepreneurial and sometimes contrarian spirit that you have developed during your combat tours.  You have had unique learning experiences, from providing security for elections that determine the fate of nations, to getting feuding groups to work together instead of killing each other.

                You have learned how to restore infrastructure and services to places that desperately need them, and how to understand the strategic impact those improvements can have.  

                You have been in deadly firefights, and you have seen your soldiers wounded and die.  

                Now you must incorporate all these experiences and lessons into your training cycle to institutionalize what you have learned, capabilities that will be critical to success in Afghanistan and other potential future conflicts.  

                Your responsibilities run up as well as down.  As you have no doubt been told, you are now “them” -- the field-graders you sometimes resented as captains and lieutenants.  Your rank and position puts you over the tactical level leaders on the team that will need, if not ask for, your mentoring and guidance.  

                You stand to influence the company commanders, platoon leaders and staffs of the entire organization.  Not to put too fine a point on it, but the fate of the entire organization will rest on your hard work and ability to forge a successful team.  

                The mentoring of the next generation of officers is essential as they will be the Army leaders that fill your roles once you have moved up.  In doing this, you will have the advantage of knowing more about 21st century warfare than many with Ph.D. degrees on their wall or stars on their shoulders.  

                I have always been impressed by the way the Army's professional journals, like Military Review, allow some of our brightest and most innovative officers to critique, sometimes bluntly, the way the service does business; to include judgments about senior leadership, both military and civilian.  I believe this is a sign of institutional vitality, health and strength.  I encourage you to take on the mantle of fearless, thoughtful, but loyal dissent whenever the situation calls for it.

                I say this because in the positions you will soon assume, you are certain to face situations where you must stand alone in facing a difficult, unpopular decision, when you must challenge the opinion of superiors or tell them that you can’t get the job done with the time and resources available, or when you will know that what superiors are telling the press or the Congress or the American people is inaccurate.  There will be circumstances when speaking blunt truths could offend superiors and your peers as well.

                Whenever I visit the military academies, I remind cadets and midshipmen of the example of George Marshall, whose portrait hangs behind my desk.  In late 1917 during World War I, U.S. military staff in France was conducting a combat exercise for the American Expeditionary Force.  General Pershing was in a foul mood.  He dismissed critiques from one subordinate after another and stalked off.  

                But then-Captain Marshall took the arm of the four-star general, turned him around and told him how the problems they were having resulted from not receiving a necessary manual from the American headquarters, Pershing's headquarters.  And the commander said, well, you know, we have our problems.  And Marshall replied, yes, I know you do, General, but ours are immediate and everyday and have to be solved before night.

                After the meeting, Marshall was approached by other officers offering condolences for the fact he was sure to be fired and sent off to the front line.  (Laughter.)  Instead, Marshall became a valued adviser to Pershing, and Pershing a valued mentor to Marshall.  As a general, Marshall had similar exchanges with President Roosevelt before and during World War II.

                Like Marshall, you must always ensure that your moral courage serves the greater good, that it serves what is best for the nation and our highest values, not a particular program or pride or parochialism.  

                I would encourage you to be principled, creative and reform-minded.  And I say that knowing full well the risks that entails.

                A final piece of advice.  Through it all, try to keep a sense of humor.  President Ronald Reagan used to tell a story about a businessman who once sent flowers to the grand opening of a friends new branch office.  Unfortunately, there was a mix-up with the delivery and the flowers arrived with a card that read, rest in peace.  (Laughter.)  The businessman was none too pleased and contacted the florist to demand an explanation.  The florist replied, just think of it this way. Today someone was buried in this city beneath a flower arrangement with the inscription, good luck in your new location.  (Laughter.)

                As you each go up to your new duties and new responsibilities, I wish you good luck in your new location.  

                And please, above all, pass along my personal thanks to your troops and their families for the sacrifices they make every day.  Without your and their dedication and courage, without the support of your and their families, nothing would be possible.  The security of our beloved country is in your and their hands.  And we are tremendously grateful to you.

                Thank you.  (Applause.)

                STAFF:  We'll now begin the question-and-answer session.  The secretary -- (inaudible) -- I have the privilege of asking the first question.

                In your remarks, you briefly mentioned the FCS vehicle system and the platform that's been canceled.  With that canceling of your goal of continuing forward with the program in some fashion, what do you foresee as a reasonable time line for those to come into the Army?

                SEC. GATES:  Well, the Army's current plan is seven years, which is, I think, about a year later, a year or so later, than the original FCS deal.  

                I'm not satisfied with that.  And we did the MRAPs -- when we did the MRAPs, we went from the idea of doing it to full industrial production in less than a year, the first time that's been done in a major procurement program since World War II.  And I realize that there are development aspects to this.  But if we can do that in a year, then it seems to me that we ought to be able to carve some time off of that seven years that General Casey, General Chiarelli and I have been talking about that.

                Q     Sir -- (name omitted).  From your past eight years of experience, what would you classify the role and the relevance of the senior military colleges and the six schools outside of the academies in today's military and our society as a whole?

                SEC. GATES:  Well, first of all, I would tell you there's nothing comparable in any part of government to professional military education programs that the Department of Defense has.  And I think that, you know, not CIA, not the State Department, nowhere, I think it's critical because, among other things, it requires, it actually establishes the principle that you never get too old to keep learning.  And I think that's a worry that people think you get to a certain age and a certain rank or position, they think they've learned all there is to learn and know all there is to know.  And so having the senior schools is a reminder that that's never the case. 

                I think it's also useful in terms of being able to just the interactions that you have with the other students and with the faculty itself.  And I also think that it provides more senior officers with a chance to recharge their batteries, both physical and intellectually.

                Henry Kissinger used to say that you'd better have a lot of learning and so on stored up before you come to government, because you won't have any time to learn anything after that.  And so we're all -- you're losing intellect every day you stay in the government.  (Laughter.)  I know that feeling.

                So I think that, for all those reasons, that these schools, the senior schools are very important.  And I just think that they're important keeping people fresh and keeping people thinking. 

                And one of the things that I think -- one the reasons -- and I guess the final reason that I will cite is that one of the things that I'm talking a lot about today is change in the Pentagon and the Department of Defense, how we have to think about things differently.  We can't be focused anymore on -- you know, I sometimes say to folks that the Army keeps wanting to fight the Fulda Gap and the Navy keeps wanting to fight Midway, the Marine Corps keeps wanting to do Inchon, and the Air Force keeps wanting to fly airplanes.  (Laughter.)

                We have a new world, and each of the services is going through enormous changes.  And George Casey describes what the Army has been through in the last 10 years as changing out the engine of a car going down the highway at 80 miles an hour.  And it's not an inept analogy.

                But we're going to have to make a lot of changes as we look to the future.  And I think having these schools and the opportunity to think about those changes is absolutely critical to our future. 

                STAFF:  Panel three.

                Q     Mr. Secretary, my name is -- (name omitted).  As the news has shown recently, there's still a great deal of anti-U.S. sentiment coming from Pakistan, and some have argued that that anti-U.S. sentiment finds its genesis from the religious elite in Pakistan.

                Furthermore, people have suggested that the religious elite in Pakistan, not only are they anti-U.S. in their sentiments, but some of them are lending their tacit support to al Qaeda and Taliban senior leadership in Pakistan, and even extending a significant amount of influence in Pakistan in government.

                So can you help me understand what the U.S. policy is towards countering religious elite influence, the anti-U.S. sentiment among the religious elite in Pakistan?

                SEC. GATES:  Well, it's not just the religious elite.  There is what we have called a deficit of trust between the United States and Pakistan.  And if you look at it from the Pakistani's standpoint, there is some justification for their concerns.

                I won't even mention their attitude toward us with respect to the wars with India, but just taking as an example the way we turned our back upon Afghanistan in 1989, they considered it an abandonment.  And then we imposed sanctions on them in 1992, thereabouts, that basically cut off our military-to-military relationship for a dozen years.

                So their view is that in several successive instances, the United States has turned its back on Pakistan.  And the biggest question they have is, once you're done in Afghanistan, are you going home again, or do we have a long-term relationship?

                And what we've been trying to do is convince both the Pakistanis and the Afghans that once we're successful in the endeavor we're in in Afghanistan, that we intend to have a long-term relationship with both countries, and that we aren't going to turn our backs on them.

                Now, all these things are exploited by the extremists.  There's no question about it.  And I have to say, regardless of the anti-American sentiment on the part of many Pakistanis, what the Pakistani army has done in the northwest frontier area and in South Waziristan and Swat and so on has been immensely helpful to us.  It's helpful to them, it has been immensely helpful to us.  And they are moving in a direction, and they are taking action in places that I will tell you 18 months or two years ago I would have thought impossible.  And they are doing it because it's in their own interest, but they are willing more and more to work closely with us.

                It's going to proceed slowly, but I think we are headed in the right direction.  And I think that over time we will be able to reduce that deficit of trust with Pakistan as we show that we're committed to staying there and to developing the relationship over the long term.

                STAFF:  Panel one, please.

                Q     Sir -- (name omitted) -- sir, my question is in reference to renewable and reusable energy.  Knowing that demand for energy is one of our national security issues, and being so with all the BRAC and posts and Army base improvement, my question is, what is DOD -- or could you speak on, what is DOD with its enterprise system doing to improve the products, i.e., higher-efficiency homes and infrastructures in our communities, so that we can lessen our demand within our own installations?

                SEC. GATES:  Well, we have a number of initiatives under way, and we have a new position that will be filled soon, a senior official coordinating all of the energy-related initiatives that the department has.
               
                But I must say, each of the services has very aggressive and impressive energy programs and green programs to try and cut our costs as well as help the environment.

                We are the biggest consumer of fuel in the United States.  Our fuel bill is about $20 billion a year.  The more we can cut that, the better off we are.  Now, an interesting factoid, we spend more money heating and cooling tents in Afghanistan than we do on fuel for helicopters.  We've developed a spray we can put under these tents to cut the energy consumption by 70 percent. 

                The Navy has a number of new initiatives in terms of their bases to make those bases require much less electricity.  The Air Force has flown its first aircraft on biofuels.  So there are a lot of initiatives going on.  There obviously is a lot more to be done.

                But I will tell you, one of the things that I would like to do just to try and communicate this to people around the country is, put together in one place what all these initiatives are that we have under way, because it's pretty awesome, and they are proving to be very successful.

                STAFF:  Panel four in the balcony.

                Q     Good afternoon, sir.  The desire to support a minimum CONUS shipbuilding industrial capacity and a portable ship procurement and repair are often at cost purposes, especially in light of efficient shipbuilding in South Korea -- (inaudible).  Sir, what's the long-term way forward?

                SEC. GATES:  Well, I talked about shipbuilding a little bit with the Navy earlier this week.  They didn't much like what I had to say.  (Laughter.)

                And I'm going to talk about this a little bit tomorrow at the Eisenhower Library.  Their goal, and it has been their goal for some years, is to have a 313-ship Navy.  We're at about 285, 286 thereabouts right now.  We are not going to get there if we can't get the costs of shipbuilding under control.

                We were originally going to buy the next generation of -- we were originally going to buy 32 of the next generation destroyer, the DDG, from -- (inaudible).  The cost doubled.  The buy would now be three. 

                The new ballistic missile nuclear submarine, the next generation, will probably cost $7 billion apiece.  We can't afford $3 (billion dollars) to $6 billion destroyers.  You're never going to get to the numbers you want unless we can figure out a way to bring these costs under control and deliver these ships for a reasonable cost.

                And that means we have to think harder about whether we want to pile more and more technology on fewer and fewer platforms.

                One of my worries is, if we build these platforms, whether they're ships or planes or whatever, and we put so much technology on them, that we can't buy nearly as many as we need. 

                Just as another example of what we'll use tomorrow, our original plan was to buy 132 B-2 bombers.  At $2 billion apiece, we bought 20.  Stalin once said that at a certain point quantity has a quality of its own.  (Laughter.)  I believe that.

                And if you have 20 airplanes and you lose one, you've just lost 5 percent of your force.  And so we have to -- this is about controlling costs.  We do need to sustain the industrial base in this country.  I don't want to depend on a foreign shipyard to build American warships.

                What we need to do is figure out a way, working with our industrial partners, to get the costs down, to cap requirements and then not change the requirements once we've settled on them.  Anybody in the room who's ever added a room onto their house knows that if you change your mind in the middle of the work, it's going to cost you a fortune.  That's what we've been doing.  We keep adding requirements once we've started a program, and so the cost just skyrockets.

                So this is not a matter of turning to foreign shipyards for our Navy ships, but it is a matter of our doing a better job of negotiating contracts, doing a better job of capping requirements and doing a better job of executing the program, and then industry's responsibility to do this for the price they say they'll do it. 

                STAFF:  Panel two.

                Q     Good afternoon, Mr. Secretary.  My name is -- (name omitted).  Thank you very much for your comments this afternoon.

                Sir, I'd like to ask you a question regarding, how do you envision the Navy and Marine Corps team of the future, specifically dynamic entry from the sea, security cooperation, humanitarian assistance, our ability to provide that Naval capability to go out and continue to establish relationships with our international partners and make new international partners?  How do you envision our utilization of the future, sir?  Thank you.

                SEC. GATES:  General Conway will finish his tour as commandant in early fall.  I am in the process of interviewing potential replacements as commandant of the Marine Corps.  And the first question that I am asking each of them is, what is your vision for the future of the Marine Corps?

                The Marine Corps has been, as General Conway says, there are a number of battle-hardened young Marines who have hardly ever seen the inside of a ship.  And the question is, since the Marines have essentially, both in Iraq and Afghanistan, played the role of second land Army, what differentiates them from the Army?  And what is their mission going forward that makes them unique?

                And I don't have the answer to that question.  I think on the amphibious side, I think we continue to need to have big decks and helicopter capabilities (inaudible), and some amount of amphibious capability.  But the question that I ask is, in terms of amphibious landings, how do you do that if missiles on shore, cruise and ballistic missiles on shore, make it necessary to debark from the ship 40 or 50 or 60 miles at sea?  And how do you do that with boats as opposed to helicopters or Ospreys or something like that?

                So that's the fundamental question that I'm asking these generals.  And I just now tipped off the ones that I haven't interviewed yet.  (Laughter.)  So they can be thinking about their answer.

                But I think it is a serious question for the Marine Corps.  We will always have a Marine Corps.  But the question is, how do you define the mission post Iraq, post Afghanistan?  And that's the intellectual effort that I think the next commandant has to undertake.

                So I answered your question by not answering it.  (Laughter.)  But I think that is the question.

                STAFF:  Panel one.

                Q     Good evening, sir.  (Name omitted.)  My question is, what whole-of-government agendas are currently on the table to reduce use of DOD forces in Afghanistan?

                SEC. GATES:  Well, there's been a big effort to increase State Department resources.  And the problem is just one of scale.  I was talking about this with some majors earlier in the afternoon. 

                You can take all the Foreign Service officers in the world, American Foreign Service officers, and there would not be enough of them to crew a single aircraft (carrier) -- about 6,000.

                Secretary Rice and now Secretary Clinton have asked the Congress for more -- more foreign assistance, more AID people, more Foreign Service officers.

                I went to the Hill and asked for a budget for FY '11 of $549 billion in the base budget.  I got $549 billion, at least out of the Budget Committee.  The State Department went with a budget of less than one-tenth that size and got cut $4 billion.  So you know, its people intellectually recognize the need for greater resources on the civilian side.  But when it comes to voting the dollars and the money -- and although there have been significant increases in the State Department budget over the last four or five years, and we have a billion-dollar embassy in Baghdad, and you have so many Foreign Service officers concentrated in Iraq and Afghanistan, the rest of the world hasn't seen much of an increase.

                And you know, in Afghanistan, they've gone from about 250 people a year ago to over 1,000 civilians in Afghanistan.

                When I left the government in 1993 when I retired for the first time -- (laughter) -- there were 16,000 people in the Agency for International Development (AID). It was an expeditionary agency.  Those people, most of them expected and wanted to be deployed overseas in developing countries, in harsh circumstances, often with imperfect security.  And they were experts in agronomy and rule of law and building water systems and building schools and so on.

                Now, AID has 3,000 people and is basically a contracting agency.  So we have to reestablish, we have to -- AID, USIA, these civilian institutions that play such a huge role in our success in the Cold War have to be recreated in some way with the same scale for the 21st century.  And we're a long way from being there yet.

                This issue has gotten a lot of attention, in no small part, I suppose, because I've been so supportive of the idea of a Defense secretary supporting the State Department's budget, such a man-bites-dog story, it's gotten some attention.

                I will share one anecdote with you, though, because I tell Secretary Clinton, this is payback time for the State Department.  In the late '40s, between May of 1945 and well into 1947, the Defense Department budget dropped from $99 billion to $10 billion in about 18 or 20 months.  We were demobilizing soldiers at 15,000 a day. 

                So when the second secretary of Defense came in, it was Johnson, he wanted to run for president in 1952.  So he decided the way forward was to further cut the Defense budget.  And he wanted to take it down to about $6 (billion dollars) or $7 billion.  But behind his back, the secretary of State, Dean Acheson, worked with the Congress and the president to make sure that the Defense budget wasn't cut.

                So the State Department saved our budget in 1949, 1950; so it's only fair to return the favor, 60 years later.  (Laughter.)

                STAFF:  Sir, we have time for one more question.  Panel three, please.

                Q     Good afternoon, sir.  (Name omitted.)  Sir, earlier you spoke of a commitment to a long-term relationship with Afghanistan and Pakistan as a driver of trust-building.  What is your long-term vision for the boots-on-the-ground component of a long-term relationship with Afghanistan and Pakistan?

                SEC. GATES:  Well, I think that, particularly in the case of Pakistan, it will be a normal military-to-military relationship of the size that we have with other countries.  We sell them a lot of military equipment.  We are prepared to do training and exercise with them.  How big that operation becomes is really up to them. 

                They're very conscientious about their sovereignty.  They're also -- going back to the question about the trust deficit and anti-American feelings -- they also are very interested in keeping our footprint as small as possible, at least for now.  So I see that as a normal mil-to-mil relationship.

                I also see that for Afghanistan.  I would extend it to Iraq as well.  And I think that these relationships ought to evolve to the kind of relationships we have with countries like some of the Europeans and others, where we don't necessarily have combat troops in those countries, but we have trainers, we have people who are helping train them on equipment.  We have educational experiences, more of them come here, places like here; ours maybe go to some of their schools and so on.

                So this is part of what I see as a continuing relationship.  My own view is that this drawdown will be a gradual one beginning a year from July.  As the president's made clear, it will be conditions-based, so I expect we'll have combat units of some size there for some period of time.

                But I see these relationships evolving as these countries become normalized, particularly in the case of Afghanistan and Iraq, these relationships evolving into the kind of relationships we have with allies and partners all over the world.  And we already have a good deal of that with the Pakistanis, and we'll see it continue.

Additional Links

Stay Connected