Defense Secretary Robert Gates talked budget issues at the Naval Academy during a Forrestal Lecture series last night, April 7, 2010. He stressed the importance of getting special operations funding, which has been one of his priorities since he first took office.
“I didn’t know where to go in the Pentagon to find people who were coming in to work every day saying, ‘What can I do to help the warfighter be successful today?’ Gates said to the midshipmen.
He went on to say, “The other challenge was how do I get the guys who are in the wars today a place at the table when it comes to allocating the budget? It wasn’t how big was their place going to be, it was how do we get them to the table at all?”
A problem Gates sees is that the Pentagon is built to plan for a war and not to wage a war. Half of the defense budget is put aside for future conflicts, and only about 10% is for irregular warfare. The last 40% of the defense budget is devoted to “dual-capable” equipment for any range of conflict.
Secretary Gates said, “So this is all about how we can get all of the players to the table so that we have the full range of capabilities to deal with the threats and challenges that the country is going to face over the next several decades.”
He discussed how the U.S. did not predict getting involved in Grenada, Haiti, Panama, Balkans, Somalia, or that we would have a half a million troops in Saudi Arabia in 1990. Gates is pushing funding for special operations so that the U.S. can make the investments in the future to win.