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When George W. Bush replaced Donald Rumsfeld as Secretary of Defense with Robert Gates in 2006, I was just glad that the man who didn’t fire anybody after the Abu Ghraib and Blackwater scandals was gone.
But after three years of watching Gates operate in the bizarre world of the military-industrial complex, he’s become my latest government hero. We need more radicals like him.
Gates has put armor on the vehicles our men and women are driving around Iraq and Afghanistan now, instead of on weapons systems for future wars that may or may not happen.
He’s cut weapons systems not useful in the wars we’ve been fighting since 2001, even though Congress and aerospace lobbyists scream that the far-flung procurement network brings precious jobs to many states, including New Mexico.
It’s not about jobs, Gates argues. It’s about the Marines and Army people being shot at right now.
And Gates has changed the game of Pentagon future weapons systems funding. “If you lobby for the F-22 Raptor,” he told the CEO of Lockheed Martin, who makes the Raptor, “I’ll cut your other contracts.”
The Raptors cost $250 million apiece. They’re great in dogfights with other superpowers, but useless in wars with insurgents and terrorists.
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