Gates Calls for Cuts in Defense Spending

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 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.”

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2 Responses to Gates Calls for Cuts in Defense Spending

  1. I worked as a contractor for the US Army Materiel Command on the Item Unique Identification (IUID) program. This program is not succeeding, because it has only marked about 3 million of the many millions of items that have to be marked in order to be successful and have meaningful information. It consumes about $25-50M per year if you figure all the people, hardware, software, systems integration, and services involved. Why keep paying for something that you can’t use for 10 years? The DoD has used serial numbers effectively for years.

  2. Gary Zaetz says:

    Freezes or cuts in the US defense budget, which have been much discussed recently, risk more harm than good if the DoD agency impacted already has a small budget to begin with and its work is purely humanitarian. A case in point is the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC), which has an annual budget under $100 million annually and has as its sole task the recovery and identification of our missing war dead, a gargantuan task considering that our country has over 82000 missing in action, over half of which are considered recoverable. Considering how underfunded JPAC is already, a freeze or cut of its budget would be a slap in the face to the World War II, Korean, Cold War, and Vietnam families who have already waited decades for their loved ones’ remains to be returned. JPAC funding must be exempted from any blanket DoD freeze or cut.

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