Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Gates and his Hindenburg attack force

Some people wondered what was it about Defense Secretary Gates that Obama liked. Was it Gates' pragmatic approach to the war on terror, his desire to see troops leave Iraq, and his desire to strengthen the mission in Afghanistan? Was it his competent stewardship of the DOD? Maybe it was just the desire to to have too many balls in the air while trying to pull the country out of a tailspin? Nope. It was Gates vision for an US army comprised of a fighting force of attack zeppelins. Kaisertech!
With the announcement by President-elect Barack Obama last week that Gates will remain in his job in the new administration, the Defense chief has been given broad new power to reshape how the Pentagon selects, designs and builds new weapons systems.

The decision to keep Gates could spell the end of the Army's $160-billion Future Combat Systems program and dim Air Force hopes for large numbers of new high-tech F-22 fighter jets. At the same time, smaller projects -- perhaps blimps or light planes useful for ongoing conflicts -- are likely to find new support.
Gates wants to effectively reshape the way the military buys and what it chooses to buy, favoring more practical low tech and specific solutions to specific problems instead of high tech, high cost solutions for low tech problems and low tech enemies. In effect moving us away from the Cold War weapons system mentality. Other than blimptech, he wants to move to use more drones, more light craft with precision bombs, and things that could provide cheaper air cover, like perhaps a man with a rifle in a deck chair with balloons tied to it. He feels that you don't need $100 million dollar planes when $5 million dollar ones work fine. He is a heretic who must be burned.

So there an added side benefit to Gates: slightly more sane defense spending. Which is a change, because I was pretty certain that defense spending didn't count as spending. Live and learn.

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