Wednesday, December 10, 2008

SECDEF Gates on "Reprogramming the DOD"

Recently it was announced that Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates, appointed by President Bush as the replacement to Donald Rumsfeld, would stay on for some period to provide continuity for the Obama administration.

In an upcoming edition of Foreign Affairs journal, Gates has penned an article titled "A Balanced Strategy:  Reprogramming the Pentagon for a New Age".  And though energy issues are not discussed directly in the piece, Gates' vision for what the department needs to work on provides a contextual framework for energy security decisions in the coming years. His argument for balance is comprised of three main components:

"Between trying to prevail in current conflicts and preparing for other contingencies"

"Between institutionalizing capabilities such as counterinsurgency and foreign military assistance and maintaining the United States' existing conventional and strategic technological edge against other military forces", and ...

"Between retaining those cultural traits that have made the U.S. armed forces successful and shedding those that hamper their ability to do what needs to be done”

Clearly, the lack of energy efficiency as a KPP in systems requirements formulation fits best in Gates’ category 3: a trait that has hampered our operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, and will continue to impair our capabilities in other theaters if not addressed. Ultimately, the DOD's acknowledgement in NDAA 2009 that energy issues are a major factor in systems requirements, operational effectiveness and budgeting will color each of Gates' three "balance" components. In some cases energy will limit us; in others it will present new opportunities for the US to gain the advantage. But either way, it is here to stay as a permanent part of the way we determine our priorities and options in armed conflict, and in the way DOD prepares for its next big assignments.

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