'Next-War-itis' Rampant in US Military

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Oh guys, you're gonna love this one.

From today's front page of Military.com:

Gates Cautions Against 'Next-war-itis'

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - The Pentagon must focus on current war demands, even if it means straining the U.S. armed forces and devoting less time and money on future threats, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Tuesday.

Meeting the war-fighting needs of the troops now and taking care of them properly when they get home must be the priority, Gates said in a speech to a journalists at a seminar here sponsored by the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank.

"I have noticed too much of a tendency towards what might be called Next-War-itis - the propensity of much of the defense establishment to be in favor of what might be needed in a future conflict," Gates said.

But in a world of limited resources, he said, the Pentagon must concentrate on building a military that can defeat the current enemies: smaller, terrorist groups and militias waging irregular warfare.

If it means putting off more expensive weapons for the future or adding to the stress on the Army - that is a risk worth taking, he said.

All this coming during 09 budget markup season, supplemental funding fights and the Air Force UAV smackdown. Now I'm beginning to thing Gates really has some Rumsfeldian guts to challenge convention and service momentum...

He also issued a warning to the military services, which have long set their sights on pricey, sophisticated weapons systems that take decades to develop and get onto the battlefield.

The Army has its $200 billion Future Combat System, the Air Force has its F-22 jet fighter. Both programs have been plagued by delays and escalating costs, as well as criticism from Congress.

Going forward, such weapons programs will have show they can be useful now against terror groups and insurgents, he said.

In a recent visit to Red River Army Depot in Texas, Gates saw some pieces of the FCS that can be sent to the war front now - and he said that must continue in order for the program to continue to be viable. Gates, however, will be leaving office long before the FCS or F-22 programs are fully fielded. In his speech Monday night at the 50th anniversary of the launch of NORAD - the North American Aerospace Defense Command - Gates reminded the crowd that his stint as Pentagon chief will end in exactly 254 days.

...and I'm sure there aren't too many Air Force and Army PMs that are crying about that...

-- Christian

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