Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates spoke at the Eisenhower Library today on the historic occasion of the 65th Anniversary of the Victory in Europe. He used the platform to declare a different war, a war on needless spending in the Defense Department.
“It is a mission worthy of the son of Kansas who led our forces to victory 65 years ago, and whose legacy continues to sustain and protect us today,” said Gates.
View the transcript from his speech and read the Defense.gov story, Gates Calls for Significant Cuts in Defense Overhead.
Gates who has spent just under four-and-half decades in government, academia, and the corporate sector, has a few personal heroes who have been a source of wisdom and inspiration for him. The first, Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower, who Gates stated his portrait “hangs behind my desk at the Pentagon.” And, the second is Gen. George C. Marshall, whose portrait fittingly hangs right next to Eisenhower.
During his speech he reflected on Eisenhower’s importance to our nation’s history, who he referred as a “low maintenance leader of simple tastes.”
“Time and again, whenever Eisenhower was asked to fund something his response usually took the form of a question: ‘where is the money going to come from, and what will the military cut in its place?’ The other question was priorities,” said Gates. “In a meeting with defense officials earlier in his presidency, Eisenhower said he was troubled by the tendency to ‘pile program on program’ to meet every possible contingency.”
Toward the end of his speech, Gates called for action as the Defense Department begins the process of preparing next’s years Fiscal Year 2012 budget request.
“I am directing the military services, the joint staff, the major functional and regional commands, and the civilian side of the Pentagon to take a hard, unsparing look at how they operate – in substance and style alike. The goal is to cut our overhead costs and to transfer those savings to force structure and modernization within the programmed budget,” said Gates. “In other words, to convert sufficient ‘tail to ‘tooth’ to provide the equivalent of the roughly two to three percent real growth – resources needed to sustain our combat power at a time of war and make investments to prepare for an uncertain future.”