Gates’ Gutsy Farewell

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Defense Secretary Gates, due to step down at the end of this month, apparently wanted to go out speaking his mind. His around-the-world farewell tour has included visits to several US bases and major addresses to our allies in Asia, the Middle East, Europe, and Afghanistan. At every stop, he has made a point of reaffirming our commitment to our friends and alliances, while warning that after a decade of war and a rising debt, the US may not be able to maintain the same level of support that it previously supplied to meet security threats around the world.

The bluntness is unusual coming from a man known for his pragmatism and low-key management style at the Pentagon. His tenure – one of the most consequential for any secretary of defense in recent decades – has been marked by consensus building and an ability to work with a conservative like President Bush, as well as the liberal President Obama. He is leaving at an unsettling time when a drawdown of forces in Afghanistan and massive defense cuts loom on the horizon.

His speech in Brussels last Friday was particularly harsh in its assessment of the state of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), which is desperately searching for relevance in a changed world following the collapse of the Soviet Union. The defense secretary was particularly galled by the “real possibility of collective military irrelevance,” due to the refusal of several member nations to increase their combat capabilities in order to reflect the needs of the alliance in Libya and especially Afghanistan. Unless alliance nations increase their participation in combat operations, Gates warned that NATO’s future is “dim, if not dismal.”

He criticized NATO nations for their lack of defense spending, pointing to the fact that in Libya, NATO is now running out of bombs after just 11 weeks. The US has had to increase its support substantially to make up for the deficient stockpiles of weapons, and Gates was incredulous that “the mightiest military alliance in history is only 11 weeks into an operation against a poorly armed regime in a sparsely populated country — yet many allies are beginning to run short of munitions, requiring the U.S., once more, to make up the difference.”

He even raised the possibility that it may reach the point that the US might not see the need for a European alliance any longer. “The blunt reality is that there will be dwindling appetite and patience in the U.S. Congress — and in the American body politic writ large — to expend increasingly precious funds on behalf of nations that are apparently unwilling to devote the necessary resources or make the necessary changes to be serious and capable partners in their own defense.”

Without naming any nations specifically, Gates complained of a “two tiered” membership in NATO “between those willing and able to pay the price and bear the burdens of commitments, and those who enjoy the benefits of NATO membership but don’t want to share the risks and the costs.” He also scolded the alliance for being “apparently willing and eager for American taxpayers to assume the growing security burden left by reductions in European defense budgets.”

In truth, while the lack of defense spending by Europeans is certainly a big part of the problem, it is the failure to define a new mission for the aging alliance that appears to be a stumbling block to unity. Should NATO be an alliance that stresses combat missions — the US view — or should it opt for “soft” power, like “humanitarian, development, peacekeeping, and talking tasks,” as Gates put it. The latter view is held by most European countries who have their own problems with debt and weak economies, and who also lack the national will to sustain casualties in combat operations like Afghanistan and Libya.

The test in the coming months will be how the alliance holds together when we begin to withdraw our combat forces from Afghanistan. Most NATO troops are not currently engaged in combat due to “national caveats” that prevent the alliance from putting their soldiers in harm’s way. This led one Canadian officer to remark, “How many battalions does it take to protect Kabul airport?” Indeed, as an example, the bulk of Germany’s 5,000 troops are attached to Provincial Reconstruction Teams in quiet provinces in the north of Afghanistan. Efforts to get nations like Germany, Spain, Turkey, and Italy to alter those caveats have proven unsuccessful. As Gates said in Brussels, it isn’t a matter of nations refusing to participate as much as it is that they are incapable of doing so. “The military capabilities simply aren’t there,” he said.

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  • ze-ev ben jehudah

    Well I think most of us saw it coming years ago.NATO is like a piece of butter
    in the sun,the only thing it will leave is a stain and the bloodthirtsty Islamist
    will just step on it and take it all. A new world order is rising and no one will
    or is capable to stop them. I'm old Jew I will leave this forsaken place before
    they get to me but the youngsters they will be chained for a long long time in
    the claws of the Islamic beast. Iran is becoming an unstoppable nuclear power,
    and no one is lifting one finger,Russia and China are laughing their heads of
    because there is bounty to be taken.Turkey is going to chance their constitution
    soon so they can implement the sharia. After Ataturk changed the Ottomanian constitution his wife trew her headscarf into the bosporus river. But the wife of
    Erdogan wear's hers like a trophy. All over Europe there is a mass infiltration of Islamists.To name one country, Holland ( the Netherlands)!! no just the capital of Holland Amsterdam. More than 50% of its population concists primarely of
    Maroccan (Islamist) we have more active mosqeus than Churches. No it has been croocked a long time back,and it will get worser and worser.
    I wonder who will be the last to turn of the light in our Western civllisation.

    • Dispozadaburka

      He's here to bring in the Mahdi.
      As soon as he is re-elected he won't fund Israel.
      Then he can take over Jerusalem for the Muslim Brotherhood.
      He will be the leader for the New World.
      He has already made us a Muslim country by Muslim Prayer Day in Sept 2009.
      So if the shoe fits…

      Hope I'm wrong.

  • tanstaafl

    Does socialism sap the spirit of a country it is dominate in?

  • Mark

    Good riddance to Gates… the American Military is no place for social experimentation and Gates' support of the homosexual mafia in matters of the military is reprehensible. Good bye and good riddance!

  • Otto

    He waved the middle finger at "old Europe" and deservedly so.
    Unfortunately, they are too busy mollycoddling Mohammedans so they won't notice…

  • flyingtiger

    NATO has always been meant as a defensive force. It was organized to stop a Soviet invasion. In Iraq and Afganistan we gave NATO forces positions to defend. For the first time, NATO has an offensive mission in Lybia. Naturally they are unsure what to do.
    Gates is clueless about military matters. What is wrong with Germany and France being second rate military powers. Think of all the trouble they caused when they were powerful.
    Gates feels that his greatest achievement is allowing gays to serve, while the military is falling apart. He also created the climate of fear that prevented the Fort Hood shooter from being disciplined.
    His replacement is as bad as he is.

  • steven l

    The US should not pay the bill for protecting the EU.
    The US should contribute to the Libya adventure as much as the EU contributes to the war efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan. Not more, not less.
    If Iraq and Afghanistan are not EU wars, Libya is not a US war.
    Let’s be fair.

  • Fred Dawes

    Here we go! off the BS world of really stupid.

  • Glennd1

    Let me get this straight. This article lauds Gates because after he pursued idiotic policies that squander U.S. blood and treasure for years, and now criticizes those same policies when his career isn't at stake? In my book this makes him the worst kind of hypocritical fraud. He was effing SecDef – he could have sought to change the many things he complains about while in that role, or should have resigned if he objected based on heartfelt principle like say Michael Scheuer did from the CIA so he could speak his mind. The only thing Gates deserves for this is a bihatch-slap.

  • ObamaYoMoma

    has been marked by consensus building and an ability to work with a conservative like President Bush, as well as the liberal President Obama.

    I’m sorry but anyone who labels George “Islam is a Religion of Peace™” Bush, whose solution to the 9/11 terrorist attacks was to promote the government officials most responsible for letting it happen and to use the attacks as an excuse to double the size of the federal government like a drunken Dhimmicrat on steroids and to also deploy our troops in two endless fantasy-based nation building missions to win the hearts and minds of Muslims that are obligated to maintain nothing but hate in their hearts for unbelievers, a conservative is living in an alternate universe.

    The truth is Bush didn’t have a conservative bone in his extremely liberal body. Indeed, if you consider Bush a conservative, I’d hate to see what you consider to be a left-winger. Bush is the epitome of a RINO and the worse Republican President in history since his dad, who previously held that designation. Indeed, he didn’t have a clue and still doesn’t have a clue.

    Moreover, Gates is also a RINO and as for as I’m concerned the worse Republican Defense Secretary in history.

    Should NATO be an alliance that stresses combat missions — the US view — or should it opt for “soft” power, like “humanitarian, development, peacekeeping, and talking tasks,” as Gates put it.

    The US should never ever again become involved in another fantasy based nation-building mission under any circumstances whatsoever, because the purpose of war is to defeat our enemies and to create deterrence, and by pursuing fantasy based nation-building missions, ostensibly to win hearts and minds, it defeats the purpose of war as it erases any and all deterrence. In addition, the above goes double for when it comes to trying to win the hearts and minds of Muslims, because winning the hearts and minds of Muslims is a fool’s game because it is literally impossible, since all Muslims are obligated to hate our unbeliever guts no matter what.

    Nevertheless, the new mission of NATO should be to combat Islam, as Islam is not really a religion but instead a totalitarian ideology that masquerades as being a religion to deceive the societies it intends to subjugate into a very draconian form of Islamic totalitarianism.

    Efforts to get nations like Germany, Spain, Turkey, and Italy to alter those caveats have proven unsuccessful.

    Hmm….I hate to rain on this writer’s clueless parade, but Turkey, thanks to Erdogan and his AKP, is our enemy and should be kicked out of NATO ASAP.

    it isn’t a matter of nations refusing to participate as much as it is that they are incapable of doing so.

    Any nation incapable of participating should be kicked out of NATO and be on their own.

    He received high marks from many in Congress for his advocacy of the surge which proved to be a success.

    How can anyone claim that the surge was a success? Iraq is a Sharia state that was democratically elected, and if anyone believes that a Sharia state will remain a loyal friend and reliable ally of the USA once we leave, then they are dreaming and I need to sell them a bridge.

    By the way, the same goes for Afghanistan, which is also a Sharia state that even prosecutes and sentences to death all blasphemers and apostates even while we prop it up. Yet Gates and our leftwing hijacked Defense Department hardly raise an eye brow. Man, are they in for a rude awakening when reality finally hits them in the face.


  • ObamaYoMoma

    His retention by the Obama administration as defense secretary was a tribute to his popularity in Congress and his ability to build consensus among the Pentagon’s military leadership.

    Actually, it was due to the fact that like George Bush, Gates is also a stealth leftist RINO, which also accounts for his popularity in Congress unfortunately.

    Currently, Gates is warning against withdrawing our forces too quickly from Afghanistan.

    Of course, because he doesn’t have a clue that the mission was never possible of being successful since even before it was implemented because it is based on flawed fantasy based political correct myths that have no basis in reality. In other words, like his predecessors before him and indeed like the entire defense department, as amazing as it is, all of them still don’t have a clue.

    He told a soldier on his farewell to the troops in Afghanistan that “we’ve still got a ways to go and I just think we shouldn’t let up on the gas too much at least for the next few months.”

    Meanwhile, our troops are being killed wholesale and like never before because of their insane rules of engagement that places a higher priority on protecting Muslim lives than on American lives.

    I think that’s a no-brainer.” It may be self-evident, but war weariness among the voters

    I’m not weary of war. However, unlike Gates, I know that the mission in Afghanistan, like the mission in Iraq too, is exceedingly fantasy based and utterly insane. Indeed, not only are we throwing away well over a trillion dollars, but also we are needlessly sacrificing young American lives all for nothing, and for that everyone responsible should be held to account, but I won’t hold my breath of that ever happening. Indeed, when George “Islam is a Religion of Peace™” Bush declared war on the tactic of terrorism, it was analogous to FDR declaring war on the tactic of using kamikazes. Had FDR been so utterly confused, we’d all be slaves of the Japanese Empire today.