War & Peace
Blunt Words from Defense Secretary Gates on US Invasions
US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates had some unusually blunt words of warning for the West Point cadets he addressed yesterday. Gates told the audience of future Army officers that it would be imprudent for the United States to fight another war like Iraq or Afghanistan and that the chances for another successful ‘regime change’ were low.
“In my opinion, any future defense secretary who advises the president to again send a big American land army into Asia or into the Middle East or Africa should ‘have his head examined,’ as General MacArthur so delicately put it,” Gates told the cadets. “As the prospects for another head-on clash of large mechanized land armies seem less likely, the Army will be increasingly challenged to justify the number, size, and cost of its heavy formations,” he added.
Gates continued: “The odds of repeating another Afghanistan or Iraq — invading, pacifying, and administering a large third-world country — may be low,” he opined, adding that the US government and armed forces should focus on preventing “festering problems from growing into full-blown crises which require costly — and controversial — large-scale American military intervention.”
Secretary Gates, who was appointed by former President George W. Bush to replace Donald Rumsfeld and retained by President Obama, is expected to retire this year. The West Point speech was thought to be his swan song to the Army.
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