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Soon-to-depart Gates is Key to Pentagon Budget Trimming

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, Photo: defense.gov

In a series of articles today, Politico took on the “pruning the Pentagon.”

And, while much ink has been spilled on the topic of the exit strategies from Afghanistan and Iraq, Politico focused on that of Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, himself, and what his departure will mean for the department’s budget-trimming efficiencies initiatives.

Politico lists the roster of reform Gates has helped usher in for the Obama administration: “Conditioning the board military-industrial complex to expect a future of flat budgets, making the Pentagon relatively slimmer and more efficient, and trying to knock off programs that have proved stubbornly popular with Congress.”

But, Gates has indicated several times that he will step down — likely soon, which possibly puts many of the administration’s goals into jeopardy. Will Gates’ replacement be as able to usher in the needed reforms?

“Not only will the budget in question have to clear the normal hurdles in Congress, it also would depend on Gates’ successor to make sure many of its longer-term elements come into being,” Politico reports.

As for who that replacement will be? Politico lists Undersecretary of Defense Michele Flournoy, Navy Secretary Ray Mabus and Center for Strategic and International Studies President John Hamre as possible contenders.

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