The Gates Doctrine: Avoid Big Land Wars

The Gates Doctrine: Avoid Big Land Wars

The United States should not deploy large numbers of combat troops on the ground to most of the world, outgoing Defense Secretary Robert Gates said in his last speech to the West Point corps of cadets.

Here is the core of Gates’ argument: “The strategic rationale for swift-moving expeditionary forces, be they Army or Marines, airborne infantry or special operations, is self-evident given the likelihood of counterterrorism, rapid reaction, disaster response, or stability or security force assistance missions. But 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.

“By no means am I suggesting that the U.S. Army will – or should – turn into a Victorian nation-building constabulary – designed to chase guerrillas, build schools, or sip tea.”

While we may not rebuilding a colonial constabularly, the consequences of this strategic approach seems to be that the Army’s vaunted heavy divisions, designed to be the core of American global strength since World War II, may be headed for dissolution. Gates came pretty close to saying just that when he told the cadets that, …“the Army will be increasingly challenged to justify the number, size, and cost of its heavy formations to those in the leadership of the Pentagon, and on both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue, who ultimately make policy and set budgets.”

Critics will doubtless target Gates on one key aspect of his reasoning. He told the Army’s future leaders that the US has “never once gotten it right, from the Mayaguez to Grenada, Panama, Somalia, the Balkans, Haiti, Kuwait, Iraq, and more” when predicting the next war.

But he hedged his bets, noting that “the need for heavy armor and firepower to survive, close with, and destroy the enemy will always be there, as veterans of Sadr City and Fallujah can no doubt attest.” But those are largely tactical uses of limited elements of the Army’s structure, not the massive power that a heavy division could bring to bear.

He appeared to recognize this, because his next sentence says the Army “must confront the reality that the most plausible, high-end scenarios for the U.S. military are primarily naval and air engagements – whether in Asia, the Persian Gulf, or elsewhere.” If one were to look back in time, this would be very similar to the arguments one heard especially from the Air Force during the Clinton years that high precision weapons would basically render ground forces obsolete.

One senior Army officer characterized Gates’ speech as “a sad commentary” that would seem to tell Army cadets “that their career aspirations are misplaced. All in all, a terrible message.”

Gates placed most of his emphasis on the ability of land forces to engage in irregular warfare and the ability “to prevent festering problems from growing into full-blown crises which require costly – and controversial – large-scale American military intervention.” That would seem to relegate the conventional Army — ready to battle a conventional enemy that poses a life and death threat to the United States — to the sidelines. Instead, he urged the service to “adapt its practices and culture to these strategic realities.”

His examples of officers to emulate were drawn from irregular warfare, such as that of Russell Volckmann, who was stationed in the Philippines before World War II broke out. He raised and led many of the guerrilla forces that battled the Japanese during the war. “When the Japanese commander finally decided to surrender, he made the initial overtures not to General MacArthur, but to Volckmann, who went on after the war to help create the Green Berets. My point: if you chart a different path, there’s no telling the impact you could have – on the Army, and on history,” Gates told the cadets.

What Gates did not mention was that when Volckmann went to the Philippines, service there was largely viewed by the Army leadership as garrison duty to be avoided by soldiers looking for a promising career. Given how rarely the U.S. gets it right when predicting wars of the future, perhaps Gates should be less sanguine about his or anyone else’s chances of picking the right approach.

Developing an Army capable of executing a wide array of missions — low– and high-intensity warfare, with a large corps of highly trained special operators — may be the soundest approach. The Marines and Special Operations Command will have to be crucial parts of deciding how best to approach this. Regardless, the Army is and will likely remain the largest forces America deploys. And remaking it will, as Gates noted, require a much more adaptive and nimble Army leadership than we have had much of the last 70 years. When bureaucracies shrink they tend to grow more cautious unless forced to change by strong and unconventional leaders. Perhaps replacing many senior Army leaders is what’s needed over the next several years, as Gen. Marshall did after the Louisiana Maneuvers.

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The bottom line is, we need to get rid of soldiers so we can buy more high tech weapons from the defense contractors who live on the free cash they make from developing these weapons. Once the weapon served the soldier. Now the soldier serves the weapon and those who created the weapon.

Let’s not change anything. Let’s not eliminate profit on development. We will just keep on providing the defense contractors a financial incentive to drag out development and ratchet up costs because in our hearts and minds we know capitalism is crap and we are far beyond that place where capitalist incentives or competition could effect the out come of anything we do. That is, after all, why it made perfect sense to cancel the F136 engine for JSF. That is why it makes perfect sense to pay contractors profit on development. Bob Stevens puts $34 million of your tax dollars in his bank account every year and laughs at just what a bunch of idiots you people really are, so let’s not change a thing.

Good Afternoon Folks,

To Dfens, right on the mark. The only thing you didn’t mention is that Sec. Gates is the leading Republican in the race for the vacated Texas US Senate seat. It is noted in Texas they make F-35’s and LCS’s but oddly not Combat Boots.

Sec. of Defense has served his country and two Presidents well, but has gone rogue. Time for President Obama to award Sec. Gates an employee of the month medal in the Rose Garden and the give him the boot out of the front door.

Byron Skinner

LCSs are made in Alabama and Louisiana, with HQs in Virgina, and Maryland

I think he underestimates the potential for large-scale force-on-force conventional warfare in the future. At the same time, though, I can’t disagree with the underlying logic. The leading edge of America’s combat power will continue to be robust conventional sea and air forces, and unconventional Special Operations Forces well into the century.

Don’t forget Wisconsin for LCS 1 and others coming in the split buy…that should be the model for KC-X as well..

We can probably afford to convert some of our tank companies to infantry companies. Unless we’re going to try to plow through Russian or Chinese tank divisions, we have way more tank units than we can use. My heavy brigade replaced an infantry brigade last summer in Afghanistan and the personnel difference is a couple hundred pairs of boots.

Dfens, I hope you enjoy your crotchety, paranoia-fueled life. It’s so great we have the internet so you can spread your deep, deep wisdom.

I was unaware that Gates and his merry band of sycophants were able to come up with anything resembling useful doctrine. #military

Of course you are right. For some reason my memory locked of Bollinger down in NOLA. Aren’t they doing final work on the Freedom ships down there?

Trying to avoid wars to begin with is always wise, but when we must fight we the US should be able to bring in heavy armor. “Big land wars” like the 1991 Gulf War seem to be a better fit for the Army than COIN operations with no end in sight anyway.

What happened to the whole “Brigade Combat Team” concept? If Gates would rather not deploy whole armored divisions isn’t the BCT structure sensible?

Contractors should be slaves to the government or better yet, socialize everything and get our soldiers unionized (/sarcasm!)

Soooooo, If the next Hitler or Bin Laden comes from Asia (China too?), Africa, or the Middle East.….… it’s hands off? I wonder how WWII would have turned out without Operation Torch?

Look folks, the problem with Iraq and Afghanistan is NOT the reasons we went in the first place. It’s how we fought — or rather didn’t fight. The very first lesson we should learn from both conflicts is that war can not be fought on the shift. By that I mean that my Grand Father left Alabama for WWII and three and a half years later came back to Alabama. I left for Iraq the first time in February 2003 and returned in April 2004.….. I did my shift!

Emagine how long, or short it would have been if I, and everyone else was told, “You can go home when it’s over?” Thing would have gotten pretty nasty — guess that’s the point of WAR!!!!!!!!!!!!

Gates once again demonstrates be blinded to reality. War is not a game. You do NOT fight not to lose, you fight to WIN! An army capable of executing high-intensity warfare is perfectly capable of executing low-intensity warfare (with a proper change in tactics) but an army built for executing low-intensity warfare is at a SEVERE disadvantage in high-intensity warfare. And the consequences of losing (or doing poorly) in high-intensity warfare are more severe than not doing exceptionally well in low-intensity warfare.

Sea & Air hun , that’s why he shut down the best fighter in history (that can attack better than an F-117). And go all in on a inferior jet (F-35). What a nut job ‚good ridance!!!!!!

Technically there’s no such thing as an “armored division” anymore. You’re right in that we fight as a group of brigades these days. I think the only division where every brigade is considered “heavy” is the 1st Cavalry Division. Every other division has at least one infantry or Stryker brigade in its name. The heavy brigades are composed of combined arms battalions of two tank and two infantry companies. I don’t there are any pure tank battalions left in the army. We fought Desert Storm with the bulk of the US Army’s armored strength but did OIF with a fraction of the US Army’s tanks. And I think Engineer has a good point in that if units were stuck out here until someone declared victory or defeat, then things would be a lot different. You reach a point towards the end of the deployment where you think someone else can keep the ball rolling.

I think what Gates is trying to say here is that the mostly likely war scenario to arise within the next 10–20 years will be in Asia. Our good friends the Chinese are expanding rapidly and they intend to correct some historical slights, they intent to not only take Taiwan but also the Spratly Island, and they will no doubt move south AND north into Russian territory (that’s why the Russian’s are so keen to rebuild their military because they see the writing on the wall). We will get involved simply because we won’t allow China to expand it territory AND we have Allies to help defend. So Gate is right, the next war will primarily be a Naval and Air more, more like 80% US Navy/Marine Corp, 10% Air Force and 10% US Army. The Air Force won’t be much of a player except for US land based bombers that can be flown in simply because what few Air Force bases there are in the eastern Pacific won’t last very long in a shooting war. The Army won’t be a player until later on in the conflict when they are able to ship in enough of their heavies into theater so support the Marines (in the retaking of Taiwan).

We’re still equipped to fight the cold war had it gone hot, that is unaffordable over the long term. Modern heavy equipment will be too expensive for us to buy enough of in future anyway.

As the rest of the world develops we will lose our economic power which in turn means a smaller, less capable military and he’s basically saying that we will need to avoid the expense of unnecessary wars. We didn’t need to invade Iraq, after all where were his WMDs? Afghanistan was only necessary in order to deny a safe haven to terrorists.

We need to get over this feeling that democracy must be had by all countries and start to accept that its not our business to make it happen. State and CIA can work behind the scenes and in the shadows on that one.

Gates is a headcase. He says the carriers are almost obsolete because China can shoot rockets at them. He says Marines and amphibious landings are obsolete because rockets can be shot at them. Now he says armies are obsolete. It seems like gates doesn’t want a military at all aside from a submarines with lesbians and gays on it..

I just can gurantee you that China will not produce the next Hitler or the other name you mentioned. Yeah I do admit that China is modernizing its armed forces a little bit faster than you guys expect, but this does not necessarily mean that China wants any unwarranted global profit from others, just like US has been doing since the end of WWII.

Also I want to remind you of the “accident” happened on May 8 1999. In that “accident”, NATO forces bombed Chinese Embassy in Belgrade and killed several Chinese civilian who worked there. I do not want to pick on the word “accident” or “incident” any more herein but I only want to point out the fact that it is not your country at all but you just burned it.

“Joe” is obviously a chicomm. Only 3d world dictators like china continue to whine like little kids. Take it like a man alread and stop killing your own citizens for being opposed to the communists, practiing Christianity o just being a little girl.

When china become a free country like Taiwan then we will respect your concerns.

In any real war, we need an Army. It is our most important service. So of course, lets gut the Army, to pay for JSF. And kill the F22. What else do we have to sacrifice on Gates altar of JSF?

I think the point is more just a commentary on the diminishing emphasis on the heaviest formations of our conventional forces. That while they are still important in modern warfare how they’re organized should move away from how it is now. It struck me more as a discussion on the growing importance of irregular and distributed warfare.

I am a different joe, so don’t give me grief about Joe’s posts.

“You can go home when it’s over” aka “And we won’t be back till it’s over over there.” Viet Nam was our first(?) fight in shifts, and shifts didn’t work then either. Why do we seem to adopt tactics that have proven less than optimal?

In strategic terms, this is known as putting all one’s eggs in the basket. Frankly, we don’t know where the next war will be, and we can only guess at what force mix will be needed to fight that war. By eliminating options a priori, Gates is committed the worst of strategic sins. I’ve been reading through Macgregor’s 2003 book “Transformation Under Fire” — which touches on these issues in a very broad brush manner. Macgregor serves as an apologist for those who want to draw down the numbers of tanks, etc. in the force — but he also attacks the idea that the tank is obsolete. What this all means for the Army is that unending call to do the same missions with less forces, and the returns on that curve are not linear. Eventually you get to the point where mission failure is a preordained conclusion. Bottom line — all the caveats in Gates’s remarks are pretty meaningless. The sooner DoD gets off this horse and onto something more stable, the better off the country wil be.

Armored Divisions, like Mechanized Infantry divisions, have always been combined arms organizations. If you look at an armored division patch, it always has three colors on it — red for artillery, blue for infantry, and yellow for armor and cavalry. You can task organize for combined arms at many levels — and the U.S. Army has historically been the most aggressive of all in this respect. What more needs to be done ? Well, nothing — other than there is a debate — one that Gates is insufficiently knowledgeable to engage in — as to the shape and size of higher tactical and operational echelons. I really don’t know if “combined arms battalions” are a good idea, since they fix the ratio of tanks and mech infantry at 1 to 1. Within reasonable constraints, fixed brigades can and should work. As far as the division and corps are concerned — form should follow function, and we have nearly a decade of real world experience with ad hoc division and corps level structures to sift through. The rubber meets the road with the force generation cycle and how many treads we can hit the ground with this minute. That is all, as the Duke might say.

The problem is not the means of combat, but the total lack of concern for operational tempo. My handle “Vitesse et Puissance” is the motto of the 69th Armored Regiment — “Speed and Power”. Gates and others like him are committed to a view of warfare that guarantees minimum results with maximum cost over the longest period of time. At bottom, for a democracy such as ours with limited tolerance for protracted attrition warfare, it is a recipe for failure. Liddell Hart’s “indirect approach” may seem to follow the line of least resistance, but it does not always lead to successful results if the enemy’s center of gravity is not broken thereby. Bottom line: for cheap hawks, the apparent happy path based on the most optimistic assumptions does not always lead to victory. Secretaries of Defense get paid to build a force that prevails under the least favorable circumstances.

Gates placed most of his emphasis on the ability of land forces to engage in irregular warfare and the ability “to prevent festering problems from growing into full-blown crises which require costly – and controversial – large-scale American military intervention.”

Good idea in theory, but when it fails (and it will!) you are going to wish you had the heavy metal. Ivory tower thinking.

USA need close all of his foreign base, specially small base.One base in germany, one in irak and bahrein, one in japan and S.korea that’s suffisant.Aircraft transport was the key, don’t need anymore than some airport and some seaport.60 years for spending money for nothing, except for prove to the world they are everywhere.This si this mentality of power who destroy today USA nothing more

Mr. Gates latest speech is like a trip back in time, back to the late 1930’s when following the great depression isolationist’s advocated against the need to have large ground and naval forces. The isolationist movement felt that hemispheric defense using air power was all that was needed to protect the US and our interests.

While obviously the US needs to continue to invest in Special Forces/expeditionary capabilities, other parts of Mr. Gates speech contradict some of his actions as Sec. Defense. How can one support the use of air power over large ground force capability while gutting much of our fighter force and canceling production of the F-22?

I can only imagine how it must feel to graduate from such a famous military college and then be told by the most senior person at the Pentagon that essentially large ground forces are a thing of the past, which of course conveniently ignores critical parts of military history.

Viewing the world with blinders on in an effort to justify building his “legacy” of cutting wasteful spending remains a consistent pattern with Mr. Gates and this latest speech is no exception.

A Secretary of Defense that does not understand the need for large ground or naval forces is a Secretary of Defense that needs to find another job.

U.S. budget issues will make much of this a mute point in the future.

No money, no tanks.

But what if we find ourselves confronted with another Republican president? We will need a big ground force to fight their crazy wars, will we not?

Gates my have over done his stay at DOD but his conclusion are not 100% invalid. Just as we had the foresight to
see what going to happen in Europe in the last 1930’s it not too difficult to “see” the same type of trends now, of what might happen in the next 5–15 years. While no one new for certain that there would be WWII, even people has the wisdom to start preparing for it by designing new tanks, plans, ships, etc. Luckily we were “ready” for WWII when it happened-even thought no one wanted it to happen (no military in their right mind want to go to war). So
I and lots of other people look to China as our next big threat it does have precedent and history behind it. China has some unique problems that are only going to get bigger with time: over-population (that can’t be stopped), lack of water, the continual loss of arable land to the desert, an economy that is based on lies, and a nervous political ruling class. There are all ingredients for “expansionism” i.e. a war of aggression. A war of aggression covers up many things, there are many examples from history that teach us this.
Gate has been wrong about many things and I do believe we need some new leadership but the next major conflict we find ourselves in will be with China-for better for worse. We only ignore the obvious signs at our own peril. Obviously, this next war (like it or not) will be a “fight as you are” type of conflict. It’ll be short, sharp, and bloody. It’ll be fought by forces already in theater, there will not be a long period of time to build up forces in place. Like Gates said it be mostly a Naval and air conflict. It’ll be fought mostly by Naval/Marine forces in place with assistants from US base land bombers. Heavy army divisions will play a small part only simply because of logistics-they have to get there first. The Army heavies will have to be shipped to theater, but that would be slow and dangerous (with lot of Chinese subs lurking about) because the Navy doesn’t have the sheer numbers needed to help form and protect convoys. Most of the Naval forces will be concentrated protecting the battle groups and the MEUs. Air Force assets in the area will be quickly lost due to their defenseless nature. So all you are right, there is a need for sheer numbers, but we need to make sure we have the right numbers of certain things.

i think you are going to have to reread Gates’ comments. he is not ‘putting all eggs in one basket’ — you can see he acknkowledged the importance of Armor on the battlefield. There is no ‘elmination of options’ and any of his policies on force structure would have to be subjected to Congressional approval anyway. Gates position on the employment of Armor is actually smarter than Army leadership a la Mogadishu. Gates is a giant improvement over Rumsfeld — I don’t agree with all of Gates’ decisions, but I give him credit for a lot of good ones.

LOL this is exactly the type of thinking that resulted in the problems in both Vietnam and in Iraq. Army leadership thought if they were masters of high intensity conflict, then low intensity would be easy. And it was not the Army who led the charge to properly change tactics so the troops would have better MRAP protection, it was Gates who forced the program forward.

Well I’m sorry to you and both the Army but the Army cannot pick and choose it’s missions. The world ain’t no a la carte smorgasboard where the Army gets to pick out the dessert and ignore the brussel sprouts. The Army serves the Nation, neglecting the full spectrum of land operations is not acceptable. Get that in your head.

Congratulations, you idiots have found a system that works worse than Communism, and you’re willing to defend it. How pitiful is that?

The suspicious among us do not see a great deal of difference between Gates and Rumsfeld. Both of those guys are driving the machine as fast as they can — straight into the ground. Without regard to investments past, much less investments that need to be made into the future. The problem is deep-seated in the Department itself. The comment you made about Mogadishu is historically incorrect. Colin Powell favored the deployment of heavy forces in Somalia, but was vetoed by Les Aspin, and primarily for political reasons.

No one is saying otherwise. But I did have conversations with left wing types back in the 90s who wanted to turn the army into a kind of international police force. Some 8+ years of actually trying that idea out, those folks are not singing that tune no more. We must build a force that is capable of both deterring our adversaries, and of employment against our adversaries if necessary. If in fact the Army cannot pick and choose its missions, then how does one make sure the Army has the right size with the right force at the right time ? In WWII, we spent three years with the NG mobilized leading up to Pearl Harbor, and 2.5 more years until D-Day. Does anyone really think the US will have that kind of luxury in the future to pick and chose when, where and how to commit its forces ? I don’t think so. You end up with something more like the Old Contemptibles of the BEF in 1914, and a very rough road in the years to follow.

Hey Sarah there, yeah I am a Chinese and China is for sure a third world country — a lot of people are poor and we are working really hard to make them live up better. I wasnt in good mood yesterday when I ran into this article — I just didnt like people talk about China threat — that’s all.
I love my country and I have a very good feeling for American people too — I have many American friends and actually a couple of days ago I just received a photo from my best Amercian friend — he has become a father and wanted to show me his cute little baby. I was so happy to see my friend’s great “accomplishment”.

To Sarah and Engineer, as well as all fans of military, international relations and polical science:

Yeah I am a Chinese and China is for sure a third world country — a lot of people are poor and we are working really hard to make them live up better. I wasnt in good mood yesterday when I ran into this article — I just didnt like people talk about China threat — that’s all.
I love my country and I have a very good feeling for American people too — I have many American friends and actually a couple of days ago I just received a photo from my best Amercian friend — he has become a father and wanted to show me his cute little baby. I was so happy to see my friend’s great “accomplishment”.

What I want to emphasize is, we are all people, regardless of race, religion and nationality. A peaceful world that can tolerate and fuse multiple cultures will be more desirable than competing each other — esepcially running for arm competition.
Oh, I hold it for sure that it was absolutely wrong for the government to shoot at students on that early summer day in 1989. It took British government 38 years to admit their huge mistake — please just give Beijing more time.
No arm competion, no meaningless and hostile dispute. Let us become friends — let the politicians think whatever they want.

Hey Joe:

What are you doing to rid the world of one othe greatest evils?: the chinease communist party?

Or are you a member?

My comment wasnt to you — it was towards William’s statement: “Big land wars” like the 1991 Gulf War seem to be a better fit for the Army than COIN operations with no end in sight anyway.
The reason why big land wars seem to be a better fit is because the Army senior leadership intentionally does not prioritize low intensity, special ops, COIN, etc. My point is that this it doesn’t matter what is a better fit — the Army has to be ready for what the Nation needs it to do. But since we operate as DoD, Joint force anyway, it’s much more than just Army. And I also think that Joint task force organization detracts from your combined arms argument above. Army and Services need to treat JTF commanders as customers and give them organizational building blocks for the team tailored to do the mission. What if a Marine O-7 happens to be the JTF (CLFCC) commander? Should we expect that the Army O-6 hoards the JTFs artillery because we did not properly learn how to get Army artilleryto work with Marines on the ground?

plus no matter how much you Combined Arms organize, there will always be needed capabilities outside the Combined Arms organization. Suppose we have the ultimate Combined Arms Brigades. Well there are going to be short Aviation, Special Ops, CSAR, Maintenance, Logistics, Space Support, Information, Psy-Ops, Civil Affairs — fill in the blank whatever assets any particular mission may need.

I did not mean to imply the Army doesn’t need or shouldn’t have the capability to fight low-intensity COIN operations, it’s just that we can’t lose sight of it’s primary mission.

You make suspicious and stupid synonymous. You can’t see a great deal of difference between Gates & Rumsfeld? How many Senior Generals & Civilian Leaders have been fired by each SecDef? Who pushed for MRAPs and more ISR? Who was at the helm for Iraq & Afghanistan surges? Who pushes for closing down JFCOM? As far as Mogadishu goes, eventually the Army relied on Malaysian and Pakistani armor to exfiltrate right? How about the Army pre-coordinating with them, as in, if you’re going to need someone’s help in the future, maybe it might be good to communicate with them ahead of time? The employment of military force is done in a joint/coalition manner. The Army has a problem with working with others, stemming from communication & deeper organizational & cultural value problems.

i agree with you. my point is it doesn’t matter what is a right fit or what isn’t. we gotta do what we gotta do. and if something currently isn’t a right fit but it’s what we gotta do, then we need to change.

Hi Sarah, while I’m not a communist, I am not going to “get rid of” them either. Chinese Communist Party has a lot of its own problems, but it has also contributed a lot to people’s well-being, and is still doing so — I cant deny this otherwise I am not being objective. Politics are just too complex for normal people to deal with. And nothing is perfect, and this world is imperfect by nature. I want everything to evolve naturally as they are supposed to, or maybe destined to and I believe a democratic system will ultimately come.

I agree with you completely. There must be perseverance by all — not just those who actively serve. Sounds like your grandfather was a true patriot. I’m retired military and a U of Ala EE grad ’58.

The Army’s requirement to maintain the heavy division supports the concept of “low level” conflict. As long as the US maintains the capability to annialate any opposing force in a toe-to-toe engagement with heavy forces, we will never have to engage in that kind of battle. Our enemies know that they can not prevail in conventional conflict so they have to resort to the fighting model we now face in OEF/OIF. We need to be able to field on the battleground, the largest, most lethal combat force in order to drive conflict to the smaller scale,thereby reducing the actual risk/exposure that our combat troops will have to face.

This from the SECDEF who identified the Chinese threat. When heavy weapon systems are reduced/eliminated from the forces, the impacts of replacing them are huge. The time required to establish/re-establish research and development efforts and follow-on production lines (If industrial and manufacturing capabilities still exist) would be years! It takes 5–7 years to bring a major weapon system from concept and design to Initial Operating Capability. There is no substitute for modern equipment on the battlefield. When we go against tanks, we need tanks to counter them. We cannot afford to flush a capability and then be forced to manufacture something half baked to counter a threat on the battlefield. We tried that once in World War II with the Sherman Tank. It was obsolete when it was fielded and we lost the lives of many Soldiers as a consequence of not having the best from the beginning. We lost crews faster than they could be replaced and Soldiers trained in other disciplines were forced to crew the tanks with little training. The saving grace was we had more manpower and more tanks, but more casualties than need be. We willl never be able to have more manpower than the Chinese, so we better have some good weapon systems.

Let’s get the exact quote from Gen MacArthur “While no man in his right mind would advocate sending our ground forces into continental China” . Nothing about the Middle East or Africa. Sec Gates probably would not want to use them in North America too. Before we forget the Gates “Wisdom”, Remember it was his plan and his requirements that nearly ran our Heavy Divisions out of ammo and food in Gulf II. That almost disaster can be laid at his feet by his design. He has not proved to be a leader or Manager for large battle sucess nor for the frittering away of our troops lives so that one anti-American Muslim group can rule in SW Asia instead of another band of Anti-American Muslims.

If we diminish our ability to confront an adversary in a large land engagement then they will challange us in that way.
Mr gates should spend more time reducing the non combat folks in government.
We have made many mistakes because we did not want to confront the chinese in a great land war and we can see where that has placed us in the order of future nations.
Our peroccupation with converting and rebuilding the defeated has created new and stronger enemies
We should have been breaking more things and killing more of the enemy.

Gates did just as bad crippling our troops with ROEs as that arrogant SOB Rumsfeld did. Gates is giving this speech to help his new employer, whoever that is.

Iraq helped to destabilize the region, however it is always going to be true that wars should only be fought when they have to, but when we do fight them we should win them, not let politicians and appointed officials like Secretaries of Defense run them. That is why Generals have all that brass-they are educated in one thing-warfare. State and the CIA cannot even predict what they are going to have for lunch, let alone deal with a war.
Our economic woes are the results of an apathetic population so entrenched in their pursuit of personal wealth that they forgot how we formed this nation in the damned first place. If nobody fears our might, they will continue to expand their global influences until they are on our soil-oh wait, so many Chinese and others are already here… But, sure, let us continue to fire our Generals and have only part of our population trained in warfare so we can always be caught off guard and playing catch up when a major conflict does erupt. After all, we saw how well the Draft went during Vietnam…
So, if we are going to have only an all-volunteer military then it should be able to fight every kind of conflict, not just the ones that are politically correct or seem winnable. Sometimes the greatest Generals were right all along. Patton predicted the Soviets would stay in Europe and most of Asia and MacArthur was fired because he wanted to bomb China for getting involved during Korea. Sure, those two were just poor leaders right?

Amen to that statement!

Yeah, I will bet the farm the leaders of the US Air Corps. wished they had listened to Col. Billy Mitchell instead of Court Martial and Dishonorable Discharge for this far sighted Officer. He predicted the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Patton was right about the Soviets… and I am damned sure I am right that China is waging a silent war against us already while building up their air, land and technological warfare capabilities against us while we again, (Clinton days), will again down size our military’s armor and sell it off to future potential enemies. Great foresight Gates!

Easy fix, stop importing cheap labor and start building our military equipment here instead of in China… In short, deport all illegal aliens, (they are loyal to where they came from anyway), and let us fix our economy so we do not have to gut our military only to have to build it up from scratch when we are really in need of it. So, no money for invaders and freeloaders and make a better tank, equip our soldiers better, and by all means, make military service mandatory for all able bodied Americans, even if they are only clerks. From this grunt, that would make us always ready to fight a war when we have to do so, instead of having to train green recruits and losing face in the World when we fail to win wars, (since we have not won one since WWII).

Yeah, that did not work out so well during, say the Civil War did it? Having a Republican or Democrat in office that knows how to utilize our military would be a blessing, not what Party they are from. Because no matter what President is in office, wars fought by this nation always turn out to be the wars fought by the citizens, not Congress or those crazy people in the White House…

I agree with the China foresight, but as far as Europe in the 1930’s? Really? We let Germany rebuild to epic size and strength without blinking an eye. And not until Pearl Harbor did we build up our military. And even then, due to the size of the military, our first major engagement with the Nazi’s in North Africa was a disaster because the soldiers were not trained or equipped to take on Rommel and his Panzer and Tiger tanks. We need to have the Armor in place so when it is, (and it will be) needed, their will be trained crews to use these weapons, while still having the Light Infantry and Special Operations capabilities to engage smaller areas of conflict. I know the Cold War is long over, I was trained to fight the Soviets, but I was also trained as a RDF Infantryman and was in smaller conflicts, (since the Soviet Scenario never came to pass). So, we have to have a balanced strategy and tactics in place along with the equipment to fight any and every kind of war that may and will occur…

Hey Joe, nobody is saying the Chinese People as a whole are enemies, but the infiltrators coming into the US every day are in every part of our government, industries and even military. We do not, as a people, at least I do not, hate anyone. I simply see the writing on the wall. If you have 1.3 billion people eventually you are going to need a bigger apartment… The US is the nice new house on the other side of the tracks… So no offense to Chinese in general, but let’s face it, we are still in a de facto state of war with North Korea and to the same extent, China. A cease fire does not peace make unless a treaty exists-which it does not… But I am glad you like us, I will sleep better at night knowing that you are not one of the tens of thousands of Chinese Nationals I am surrounded by daily here in Rowland Heights CA who wants to own my state and our nation.…

its obamas fault

Dfens, your comments only serve to illustrate your ignorance of economics. You condemn profits, yet you yourself are as guilty of making profits as any defense contractor that you condemn. If you charged your employer only what your labor actually cost, you would have no time for making inane statements for you would find yourself working 14 to 16 hours a day to just get by. Do you even have a basic understanding of what companies do with their profits? Are you even aware that the development contracts you decry are actually negotiated between the companies and the government with even Congress getting into the act? When you become less ignorant, perhads think you might make an inteligent statement worth reading.

Gates and Obama have no knowledge of warfare. For Gates to say what he did at West Point is beyond belief. Did Gates or Obama ever serve in leadership roles in the military? And, Mullen and his crew leave a lot to be desired. Of course, Mullen is a Naval Academy grad! So, his bias clearly falls with the Navy. Let’s get real—Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, etc. are all needed. Each conflict is different and our force structures, strategy and tactics must be tailored to meet the enemy forces and the specific problem. Oh,by the way, I am a West Point grad who went Air Force and was a FAC in Vietnam. I also served in Navy legal, Air Force legal and NASA legal.

All said, the navy nor the air force cannot hold the ground, only the Heavy ground forces can do that.

Our triad of military readiness is land, sea and air. Right now our troop levels are reducing and so we need to beef up our Naval priority and Air superiority and stop being as reliant on land divisions. There was an article in the Wall Street Journal today discussing the reduction in our Naval power due to inadequate troop levels, (see http://​online​.wsj​.com/​a​r​t​i​c​l​e​/​S​B​1​0​0​0​1​4​2​4​0​5​2​7​4​8​704.… This is an unacceptable situation and Gates sees the entirety of the scope of our forces which is why he concludes large land operations aren’t feasible at this time.

I regrettable agree with the responders that feel that we should thankMr Gates and retirre Himr text right here!

60 years of relative peace where we had troops. No Russian invasion of Europe through Fulda, no North Korean invasion of the South with a million men pouring though the DMZ (the 1st invasion came with troop strength near zero, no heavy weapons or heavy tanks in the theatre and Allan Dulles saying we did not want it). No bases in Iraq, no build up left to give the Iranians when they take over (we did that under the Shah), watch our base structure in the Middle East our allies may change governments. We don’t have aircraft transport to move a heavy division anywhere and maybe not a place to land. Why would the idiots in our government build a $700 million dollar embasey in Iraq using a local contractor so it is falling apart before it is finished. We are going to be run out of the country in a year or so any way.

We need to concentrate on reliable pro Republic of the United States troops on the border NOW!! With an eye on the moslems in africa and asia​.It is Far too porous there and the moslems are threatening an uprising NOW with sharia law as they have set up in France and Germany right now!{among other places}

I think Gates has made some good decisions as Sec-Def. He’s right about using Spec Ops and getting lite and fast. But, the MBT is still a formidable weapon we really cannot do without. As far as deploying an Army in Africa, ME, SW Asia, or the Pacific, he’s partly right. You better have a damn good reason for doing it. In hindsight, we could have avoided Iraq, we had unfinished business in Af-Pak. We could have, should have ended it in a-stan long ago. OBL is probably dead. We left the Korengal, i guess we still have bases in the upper Pech river valley. The thing is, US soldiers cannot cross the Durrand Line, the wacky border they have there. The Talibs live there, AQ is there, protected by the ISI and people like Hamid Gul. We are a global power, but we are NOT the police. Should we get involved in Libya? I say no. Do they even want our help? This is an EU problem, they said they wanted their own RDF, so heres the chance. Let them put boots on the ground. The French F.L. should feel right at home in Libya, same with Italy. If only their PM could keep his hands off Ruby Rubicori long enough…she’s slammin’ baby..whew..

Lol you can “gurantee” that can you? Even if you could guarentee anything, I would have to see some proof of your ability to both see the future AND read minds.

Who cares? If you need a good bombing, we’ll probably give it to you.

Obviously, the motivation here is not from revelation in military strategy, but stems directly from budgetary reality — to do more or the same with less. Now, I have no problem with cutting the military budget, but it must be done in conjunction with reductions in the scope of the responsibilities we require from our services. In my view, military leadership should decide how to spend approved money to meet stated objectives, without politicians interfering with funding for jobs programs.

In every respect, we have the best military in the history of the world, and of course it must evolve to meet new threats and to take advantage of new technologies. But change must be gradual and well-reasoned, since you only get one chance to defend yourself in a dangerous world.

The problem the military faces can be traced to the Oval Office, as every administration seems to mess up. We have often gone to war on pretext. I firmly believe that every military action should require by law, a stated justification followed by declaration of war by Congress, and clearly-measurable military objectives. When objectives are met, exit should be automatic from the engagement, without the need for an order to withdraw.

Our Presidents have often rushed to put our troops in harm’s way, with little recognition that the activity is seriously destructive to all those involved, soldiers and civilians, on all sides of a conflict. Yeah, you gotta step up and take some bad people out sometimes, because there is a threat to people or resources, but we continually make a mess of things in the name of ‘national interest,” which seems to be oil fields in some other land.

We have bases all over the globe and there’s no sense to it. It’s just like the Roman Empire, and it cannot be sustained. If we want to protect an ally, let’s have them pay for the service, otherwise we should not provide it — that is, unless we need it for our own well-being.

We need to build a world that puts serious non-military pressure on ill-behaved regimes, and we should be clear as to the consequences of non-compliance with collective requirements (or those we impose unilaterally when the collective refuses to issue them) — be it nuclear facility inspection, halt to human rights abuses, or whatever. We, through our military, should be willing to act if compliance is not reached by the announced deadline. That way, we would have already eliminated the nuclear threats in North Korea and Iran, and the Libyan leadership would be six feet under. Smalli pirates would be buried treasure by now. We would not be stuck in Iraq or Afghanistan, and we would be preparing to take out the leadership of Northern Pakistan and of Yeman. Let’s use our troops more wisely, to take out real threats.

Right.. Didn’t someone say sort of the same thing before the battle of Plataea?

In some regards, I have been impressed by Gates tenure but in other respects I am not. He seems to signal to the Chinese and to a lesser degree the North Koreans that Asia is theirs (at least on land) and that enemies everywhere but Latin America and Europe have nothing to fear from the US Army.
“with a large corps of highly trained special operators — may be the soundest approach.” Pragmatically impossible, as it is, much of SOF is crowded with direct action types who have little to no understanding of low intensity warfare, local languages or desire to train allies forces.
Given history, I wouldn’t be surprised if we found ourselves in tank warfare in the arctic circle in 2020. LOL

The Army has a problem with working with others, stemming from communication & deeper organizational & cultural value problems.”

This part I concur with from personal observation both with host nations and even with our own USAF

“I always find it somewhat sad that so many people find that the Marines are always given more credit for every war we have fought and won, but the Army is always smashed every time we lose a war.”






If true, then announcing it in a public speech means our enemies must know it as well.

For anybody who is not getting Secretary Gates’ point, consider this — how on Earth are we going to deploy such massive land forces to Asia, the Middle East, or Africa? What situation is there that could possibly result in us even being able to deploy such forces to any of these regions? And, most importantly, at what cost?

Remember the last time we had an exceptionally large armored/mechanized land force, the kind Gates’ is saying we need to phase out, nearly half of that force was forward-deployed in Germany. With the plan being to eventually base most Army units stateside by 2013, imagine the cost and complexity of moving such forces to a warzone yet again. It just boggles the mind. And lets face it — when we fight China or Russia, we are not fighting them on the ground — it’ll be from the air or the sea.

Gates hasn’t gotten everything right, but he is simply talking common sense here.


I for one think Sec. Gates has more things right than wrong. If he runs for Senate in Texas, I’d vote for him except I am from Hawaii. If he ran for President I’d vote for him too. Until the perfect leader returns, you have no choice but to go with the ones that most fit your personal view on things.

“He appeared to recognize this, because his next sentence says the Army “must confront the reality that the most plausible, high-end scenarios for the U.S. military are primarily naval and air engagements –”

Navy? We have not used the Navy extensively sence the second World War, yes, they ferry troops to and from the battle field but thats it. And as far as the Air Force is concerned, because you have the ability to knock out a few of the enenies ground positions or shoot down a few plains does not mean you can win the ground conflicts, war’s are won on the ground, not on the water and not in the air. I never really like this guy but I gave him his props.…until now.

What if the BIG LAND WARS decide to not avoid us?
Sounds like Gates is setting up a Pearl Harbor situation that he plans on running away from.

Hello all–
The United States has declared war six times in its history and has won them all. Until 1945, it fought, won and went home. After the last time, it stayed in Europe because the Soviet Union threatened Europe. The first military conflict of the Cold War, the “police action” in Korea was a draw. All subsequent actions (except for Desert Storm) were not wins. Vietnam was not strictly speaking a US loss (combat troops had been out a year before the South fell) but was a failure nontheless. Our first. There have been others.
It is not the job of the USA to police the world. We don’t need to get militarily involved in any of these latest conflicts. Just because we are the biggest power doesn’t automatically mean that we have to intercede in regional conflicts. (Afghanistan was an exception. Bin Laden attacked us, and was in Afghanistan. We should have chased him into Pakistan to get him. We probably should have declared war against Al-Quaeda (a ‘nation-state’ of sorts) as justification to enter Pakistan.)
Concering Libya: the Europeans are a lot closer than we are. Let them handle it.

Hurrah for SECDEF Robert Gates! “By no means am I suggesting that the U.S. Army will – or should – turn into a Victorian nation-building constabulary – designed to chase guerrillas, build schools, or sip tea.” One of the most able and honorable SECDEFs of the US within decades is saying that we Must adapt to get ready for an array of operations and humanitarian relief expeditions in the coming years. The US military has always made the world a Better Place for people to live in! I challenge even the most rabid liberal to go to the third world and find out for themselves. God Bless America and our Military Forces whereever they are!

The best alternative, is to require a large amount of cross-training of armored forces and infantry. Have dedicated divisions (or brigades), but then cross train the rest of the crowd so that versatility/flexibility becomes the key to our ground forces.

truth is, we all have these problems. some individuals & organizations just refuse to admit it, impairing the ability to address the problems.

No matter how well someone is cross-trained, we will not accomplish missions unless we have joint exercises that are similar to our real mission operations. We already have amazing cross-trained individuals and organizations in the military. But put them together in a difficult situation they have not trained for, and we have catastrophe. We learn this the hard way over and over again: Take Operation Anaconda for example. The first time we expose our troops to that hard of a mission must not be in a real combat situation. We need to train under confusion and unbelieveable adversity as hard, or even harder, during joint exercises, than in war.

Sometimes you just need massive, overwhelming f-ing firepower. And we are the one’s I’d prefer to see have it!!!

My prediction: In the future China and the US will be strong allies. Just my prediction.

The next Adolf is coming to America… Only question is, in light of the U.S. never getting it right, who is he/she?

You are Right, Short and Quick.

I like your Jib there Mr Diaz!

I agree with you 110% we AMERICAN are getting FAT and Lazy! were forgeting our way! America is the Engine and the American People are the OIL [grappy oil] the engine will break down.!!!( due to the break down of the FAMILY!!)the family if the backbone of our great country, A Strong Husband and Wife(Morals and values)=Strong Family=Strong America! This isnt rocket science where are gonna get those warriors (HEROS) from to to fight for us.…GOD BLESS AMERICA.

this seems like it’s predictable rather have an Army that is big enough to draw from than one they have been forcing on America for the past 25 years or so with the closing of our own bases here thanks to Clinton to this crap Gates is trying to sell. We need to rebuild our Army at about 21/2 times the size it is or make EVERY American serve 4 years MANDATORY, when everyone else is increasing their forces we continue to cut ours stupid did Gates forget or not heard from the Russians just the other day posted on military​.com how they are building like 830 more ships, 13 more subs bunch more planes over 800 billion dollars worth then we got good old Mexico on our own Southern border who needs to see some big ass tanks pointed their way–take a midnight ride over that ahole Chavez houses–some Carrier task forces to keep the shipping lanes open for our fu&^*%g genorosity to the world –goodbyeGates don’t need your kind of thinking in D.C. we need more people by the name of Rick my name is Rick got a couple of friends by the name of Rick we got some good ideas come on people.

never known us to lose a war ask the indians,germans,japanese,koreans,vietnamese.iraqis,taliban,anyone who was stupid enough to face the angry american —well they LOSE stupid

you seem ill advised on many issues State & Cia can work together on what????you sit at home & solve the world’s problems on your couch since iraq afghanistan egypt etc. are All wanting a taste of our democracy,freedoms,it is our responsibility to be able to offer what we can look how many lives have been saved Thanks to President Bush in Africa when he sent Aids medicine their along with such a simple thing to you a mosquito net-drinking water is in short supply but IF we sent State & Cia ther they most likely would want to work together on saving their own ass from malaria & such things i hope you only have to read about JPI

first thing I seen on this left leaning yahoo site today how the DoD Buzz has allowed Gates to be characterized the way they have is kind of sad.

I smell a Rat can’t even put down the U.S.A. with proper English perhaps you would put a base in Panama also don’t want Chavez & Castro to feel left out right?

how naive

friends can talk politicks politicians seldom think??

Nonsense. Announcing to the world that America’s doctrine should be to “Avoid Big Land Wars” is an open invitation for anyone with a sizable army to do what ever they wish without fear of repercussions from the US. It completely undermines the primary purpose of the US military (deterrence). You have no idea how many wars the US has not HAD to fight because would be aggressors (or at least their advisors) thought the better of it.

People seem to forget that we have already lost the last three proxy wars we fought with the Chinese. Why we would want to lose another one is beyond me.

I thought the reason we are involved in asymetric warfare is that no group has the capability of facing our heavy forces. If we have no heavy forces, why would a potential serious threat choose to use unconventional warfare?

The US Navy is capable of handling sea lanes and providing strategic mobility to a limited extent. Pirates off Somila as the possible exception.

The Air Force (which one, USAF, USN, USMC, or US Army?) has the ability to establish air superiority over any space it chooses, provide strategic and tactical support (to an extent), and provide strategic (to a lesser extent) and tactical lift.

The US Marine Corps is an excellent expeditionary and first insertion fighting force capable of sustained combat against medium to lightly equipped enemies. It lacks the sustainment for large scale, long duration, high intensity combat that it was not designed or manned for.

The US Special Operations Command is extrodinarily well trained and equipped to operate in austere environs and to assist and train local forces. Their level of training and expertise will always limit the number of elete units are available and again they are not manned or equipped to fight a prolonged conflict.

The US Army offers the only flexible response with light, medium, and heavy forces available to meet and sustain in all levels of conflict. If there is a question of that mix it is in the present focus on Military Police, Civilian Assistance, and Military Intelligence over conventional combat formations: Infantry, Armor, Field Artillery, Combat Engineers, and (to a lesser extent) Air Defense (see air forces above).

By not seeing the future threat in the Pacific or the Near East, we will be forced to do another “come as you are” fight that the trained people and gear aren’t available for. That is what drives casualties and takes time. It would be handy to have a clear goal before we decide to do the next one. Perhaps: “We intend to go to your turf, break all your toys, create as many orphans as possible and return home to a victory parade leaving a note that says, “We are prepared to do this as many times and as often as necessary.””


The well-being Chinese people may have, is in spite of the CCP not its contribution. Get an education in economics please.

JR Torres

The SECDEF doesn’t realize that once you have a weak land force, then ground warfare will become an issue again. He speaks of geopolitics like it is a static affair. His thesis implies that since the North Koreans have not invaded the south then it was really a mistake to have all those forces there, US got it wrong. You don’t need troops in SK, I suppose.

Why do you want to hold anything? Armor moves forward… all the time… Let the Huns dig fox holes…

how does China own us? When you owe the Bank $100, the bank own you. When you owe the bank $100,000,000, you own the bank.

Of course not.. sending in a huge land force might actually get the job done right.. We wouldnt want that contractor and lobbyist might lose out on too much defense money if that was too happen..

Sec. Gates comments come from his own irregular background. The CIA isn’t the organization to foster conventional thinking. It is expensive, and burdensome, but maintainence of a conventional force such as our Army and Marine Corps keeps MOST of the bad guys at bay. It most certainly keeps countries cowed that would be tempted to act out. Our current President doesn’t understand that, neither did Secretary Gates. It isn’t fair, but it has fallen to us to keep the world on anything CLOSE to a straight course thru history. No other country has the power. And until recently, the moral authority. But, in any case, we keep the lions at bay.

Secretary Gates’ comments concerning the use of forces in Asia and the Middle East should be well taken. However as long as the United States needs access to foreign oil, needs to be a major player in the oil market and defend the dollar, American forces will be in the Middle East; as well as Central Asia.

What you are seeing now is another chapter of the Great Game being played, such as it was in the 19th and early 20th centuries between Britain, France, Czarist Russia and later Imperial Germany. Only now it is the United States, Russia, China, India, Japan and the EU. Kibitzers vying for control of resources from the Middle East and across Central Asia. So if anyone thinks we are getting out of these areas anytime soon, he or she should have his head examined.

The ability to have a controlling hand on global energy resources is a strategic trump card. This is the essence of the commitment of American forces in the Middle East and Central Asia, as opposed to the fiction trumpted for popular consumption, the War on Terror.

why china is bullying some small nations in southeast asia?? dont want to fight americans but your government harass some ASEAN countries and claimed the whole south china sea as your territories.. It seems that you government want to conquer whole ASEAN nations.…you may have a good working relationships with the americans personally but your communist government is brutal, ambitious, and dangerous..


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