Gates unveils portrait, mulls legacy

Gates unveils portrait, mulls legacy

Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates had his official portrait unveiled in a small ceremony in the Pentagon Tuesday while the rest of the East Coast hunkered down for Hurricane Sandy.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Gates pressed on with the ceremony as Washington D.C. shut down under weather conditions that seemed fitting for a leader who took over the Pentagon at one of the country’s most turbulent times. Gates replaced Donald Rumsfeld, a historically unpopular defense secretary with military leaders, as the U.S. was quickly losing control of a growing insurgency in Iraq.

Panetta summed up Gates’ approach to the job from the beginning.

“Bob has said, that he had three priorities when he came into the job as secretary:  Iraq, Iraq, Iraq.  And he came into this building on a war footing, determined to provide the commanders on the ground and their troops everything they needed in order to succeed,” Panetta said.

Gates faced “the massive and sometimes entrenched bureaucracy at the Pentagon,” Panetta said. He responded by not accepting excuses and demanding service and defense industry leaders remove the roadblocks to get troops the equipment and vehicles they needed to defeat the network of improvised explosive devices that butchered troops in Iraq.

“When it came to his attention that acquiring more heavily armed MRAPs could help protect troops from the threat of lethal IEDs, he refused to accept any excuses from a defense establishment that had ignored pleas upon pleas from the battlefield,” Panetta said.

“Hearing from our troops how much they valued that protection is, I think, a lasting legacy of Bob.  He helped save lives.”

Plenty of time was spent appropriately lauding Gates’ significant accomplishments as head of the Pentagon, but Panetta, and later Gates, made sure to keep it light as they shared stories while also poking fun at themselves and a few of Gates senior aides.

Panetta shared a story about his time flying into Iraq as a member of the Iraq Study Group with Gates and the moment the two finally got a chance to share something a bit stronger than tea.

“I’ll never forget — I’ve mentioned this before — going into Baghdad in 2006.  It’s not a — not a pleasant experience.  You had to do a kind of corkscrew landing going into Baghdad in order to avoid fire.  And then we shot off with armed helicopters to our location,” Panetta said.

“And then as you all know, every meeting we held, we drank tea after tea after tea after tea, and finally Bob and I looked at each other, and he hustled me off to the CIA headquarters and bar.  And we finally had a decent drink. That’s when I knew that Bob was really my kind of guy.”

Gates then took his turn, not afraid to share a bit of self deprecating humor. First, he discussed the implications of having your portrait done twice by Ray Kinstler, the noted artist who has painted seven presidents and more than 60 cabinet officers. Gates’ first portrait was done in 1993 at the conclusion of his run as the director of the CIA.

“Recently, I took another look at Ray’s official portrait of me from 1993.  It didn’t seem all that different, a few pounds lighter, maybe a couple of inches taller. The hair a more useful shade of white. A sure sign you’ve been in Washington too long is when Ray Kinstler has more than one crack at your portrait a generation apart,” Gates said.

He didn’t let his staff, many of whom attended the ceremony, off the hook either. Gates poked fun at his longtime spokesman, Geoff Morell and his sense of fashion.

“Other curiosities — other curiosities that linger, include Geoff Morell’s sense of fashion, which I’ve never seen before or since. Best described as Tommy Hilfiger meets Thurston Howell,” Gates joked, referencing the Gilligan’s Island character.

Gates’ love for barbecue was well know. Many of the defense reporters who traveled with Gates referred to his plane as  the “Big Brisket” as barbecue was often the meal served on the plane. Gates noted that the plane has since received a new nickname under Panetta’s leadership.

“I’ve heard there have been a number of changes around here since the Panetta regime took over.  I’ve heard the E-4B has a new nickname. It’s no longer the ‘Big Brisket,’ but ‘Airborne Cannoli,’” Gates said referencing Panetta’s Italian heritage.

Gates made sure to end on a serious not as he mulled what his legacy will be going forward — a legacy he has had time to consider as he works on a book in retirement.

“If they come away with nothing else from my tenure as secretary, I hope it is recognition that I came to work every day with the simple question:  Are we doing everything we can to get the troops everything they need to succeed in their mission, to come home safely, and if wounded, to get the best possible care when they come home?” Gates said.

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“Gates unveils portrait, mulls legacy”

A portrait of inbred Beltway incompetence and a legacy of disaster.

It was clear at the point that Gates came in that the US was not winning in Afghanistan, and simply _could not_ win in the long run given its self-imposed politically correct ground rules, and yet Gates endorsed a continuation of this fundamentally flawed plan through two different Administrations.

Thousands of lives have been lost to no good end as a result of the smiling idiot Gates. Hundreds of billions in borrowed money flushed down the toilet. And when the US finally does leave Afghanistan, the country will speedily revert to a condition indistinguishable from the condition it would have ended up in if the US had left in 2006 when Gates first arrived.

On procurement, under Gates, the Pentagon continued to bite down hook, line and sinker on the catastrophically flawed F-35, the “jet that ate the defense budget”.

It doesn’t work. It won’t work. Not as originally claimed it would work. It never will work as originally claimed to. Yet Gates bought into the contractor propaganda, and doubled down on failure with the preposterous F-35. Worse yet, Gates canned the competing F-22, which when it is able to get off the ground actually does work.

It would be easy to go on and talk about other Gates imbecilities such as the Littoral Combat Ship, but frankly, I’m too disgusted to type more. But if I ever want to have slavish hagiography written about myself, you can be sure I will be right on the phone to Michael Hoffman, the author of this article.

I agree with you about the F-35 ( Mistake Jet from He!! ) your right, it will NEVER preform as “Originally” sold to the Military & Congress. To many compromises because of the B Model. With the Russian Pak-50 and China’s J-20 & J-31 in the works, we will have a Serious Problem maintaining Air Superiority in the coming Decade unless we Re=start the F-22 line. With the current costs for the F-35 between $175–295 Million a pop depending on variant. F-22’s at $120–140 Million ea. looks pretty good.

Gates made a massive mistake by cancelling the F-22, a known aircraft, in favor of the F-35 which is still in development. He cancelled a program in production so that he could claim that it would save money — after he retired of course.

Gates will be remembered as the guy who crippled US airpower by killing F-22 without discussion, tried to do the same with F/A-18E/F only to be stopped by Congress. Promoted defunct LCS project, ordered thousands of MRAPs, now pretty much useless. And of course, don´t forget his gag order issued on anybody not seeing things his way. He should receive McNamara medal for “Being remarkably inapt and harming US defense and industial capacity with long lasting effects”. But to be honest, there was one really outstanding act during his tenure — his resignation.

@ CharlesHouston

You got that right. Gates has indeed done a very very nasty mistake of cancelling the F-22 in favour for the extremely costly and failed F-35 Junk Strike Failure which the money will be flushed down the toilet that will fail the air defence program. According to David Webb, Gates will certainly be remembered as the former defence secretary who crippled US airpower by killing F-22 without discussion. The US is also crippling the allies to buy the turkey F-35s.

@ David Webb

The Congress will also be remembered as they banned the F-22 foreign sale in 1998 which is also a pathetic mistake too.

Now we exactly know why the Defence standing in region is ‘eroding’, not just the defence cuts its the fact that we are buying and building the wrong aircraft that such as the F-35 JSF which is not designed as a high altitude air superiority fighter/interceptor. The F-35 was defined during the mid-1990s to have “affordable” aerodynamic performance, stealth performance, sensor capabilities and weapons loads to be “affordably” effective against the most common threat systems of that era past – legacy Soviet Cold War era weapons, not for the 21st Century emerging threats.

The F-35 is designed primarily to support ground forces on the battlefield with some self defence capabilities and is not suitable for the developing regional environment and, not suitable for close air support missions as mentioned above the vulnerability of US fighter/attack aircraft against small arms, SAM/AAA sites. The aircraft is unsuited for bomber and cruise missile defence as mentioned before due to limited endurance, limited weapons load and limited supersonic speed. Again as its limitations are inherent to the design, they cannot be altered by incremental upgrades The F-35 will be ineffective against the current generation of extremely powerful advanced Russian and Chinese systems, as detailed above; In any combat engagements between the F-35 and such threat systems, most or all F-35 aircraft will be rapidly lost to enemy fire. The F-35 JSF is a boondoggle, nothing but a turkey of the program.

He had to kill the F-22, it was threatening the the F-35 development program. After all, development is spelled “F R E E M O N E Y” if you’re a defense contractor. There was no way Gates was standing in front of that hog trough.

Exactly, torquewrench!

I was going to write about the killing of the F-22, Gates’s dumbest procurement mistake, but I see you’ve already mentioned the matter.

This was the single dumbest procurement decision, and perhaps the single dumbest of all decisions, that Gates made as Secretary.

The F-22 is (and always was) far more capable than the F-35 in both air-to-air and air-to-ground combat, offering three times more capability than the JSF. Furthermore, with all-aspect, multi-band stealthiness, and the ability to defeat most threats by kinematics alone, it is far more survivable than the F-35.

The F-22 is now also much cheaper than the F-35, costing only $150 mn per copy vs $197 mn for the F-35.

The only Western fighter capable of defeating modern Russian and Chinese fighters such as the Flanker family, the J-10, the JF-17, the PAKFA, the J-20, and the J-31 is the F-22 Raptor, or to be more precise, evolved and enhanced variants of this aircraft. All US legacy aircraft will be decisively outclassed by the PAKFA, the J-20, and the J-31 when these fighters enter service. The F-35 will be similarly so outclassed, assuming that this project even progresses to any kind of large-scale production.

The material reality is simple. The US will either resume F-22 production in large numbers and cancel the F-35, or it will lose air superiority, with all military, diplomatic, economic, and geostrategic consequences flowing from that.

At the DOD, the Gates years were characterized by incessant political bullying and unrestrained use of political power to supress facts and professional debate. Many officers, officials, and analysts (such as Dr John Stillion) who supported continued production of the F-22 lost their jobs as a result.

I know the secdef has a tough job but since when do they dine on board as if its air force one? The CIA bar? Why do they need a bar? Again, they have my admiration but the bar better make a profit otherwise its probably a waste of money that isnt truly needed. Big department heads need a reality check. I think once they get it, everyone underneath them will have a better chance of understanding how Not to waste money.

The idea of having an aircraft that does everything is a poor decision to start with. Craftsman use different tools to eprform different tasks.

We’re also relying too much on theoretical technical dominance. Did the TA 152, HE 163 or ME 262 give the Nazis air superiority? No because they had too few of them and by then they had a few elite pilots and a bunch of incompetent pilots while we had very good pilots.

Nice, looks like the artist managed to trim him down . ..But then if you’re having your portrait painted, you can appear as you’d like to be seen . ..

China flew their J-31 today, wasn’t Gates who said the US had a 20 year lead in technology. But since he left office the Russian now have the Pak-50, and China has the J-20 & J-31. The Gates legacy, 1. Loss of Air Superiority ( unless we change course fast and reopen the F-22 line ) 2. An underpowered Navy because of 55 LCS’s ( that can’t defend themselves against modern treats ).


What Legacy? Like most politicians they are very “creative” when it comes to their Legacy…Look at all those books, all those Libraries, and the Buildings named after them??? Self-perpetuating, self-serving, sick as hell! It is a SELECT SOCIETY whereby they all support one another regardless of Parry affiliations.

They both make me f*****’ sick. They must have had such a hard time in the CIA bar, BTW I’ve met very few guys who like the mrap because it’s so top heavy and roles easily.… but i like the space inside.

Another fiasco occurred on his watch: the decision to terminate the DDG-51 class of AEGIS destroyers and go “into production” on 30 new destroyers, land attack, DD-21, DD-1000, DDG-1000 (whatever you want to call it now). Recall ASST SEC DEF for ACQUISTION, Mr. John Young, back in 2003, ” We must stop producing DDG-51’s and start producing DDG-1000’s”. We all know that you cannot go “into production” on an RDT&E radical new ship class like DDG-1000 ! First it takes a decade to R&D it. Notice how the Navy has since reduced DD-21 from 30 units to only 3 ships. And they have also re-started the AEGIS DDG-51 class at both BATH, MAINE and down in Mississippi. Many thanks to Under SECDEF John Young, where ever you are retired to now.

Too many MRAPS…$40 billion! The Navy has never learned that it’s better to have numbers…more DDG-51’s and no DDG-1000s. You can always modify the ships for its equipment capabilities. We don’t need to keep changing platform designs. LCS? Give it to the enemy so we can shoot it out of the water. Drug runners and their cigar boats can probably take it out. A bar in CIA HQ? No wonder it took them 10 years to find Bin Laden.

Blame Bush not Gates. Gates had to clean up the mess Bush started.

Any civilian who puts a muzzle on the military and doesn’t support the traditions and historically proven values of the military is basically is a ‘bad guy’.

At first, I didn’t care much for SECGates, I thought he was gonna be rummie#2, I have to admit, I was wrong about that. He came in under some terrible conditions to say the least, and put some legitimacy back into the Defence Department. He all but cleaned up the mess left by his predecessor, but the effects of rummie will be felt for many a year to come. SECDEF Gates legacy will be, he restored the Defence Department to it’s former glory, if nothing else, he will be remembered for that.…Thats my opinion.

@ zbigniewmazurak

“The only Western fighter capable of defeating modern Russian and Chinese fighters such as the Flanker family, the J-10, the JF-17, the PAK-FA, the J-20, and the J-31 is the F-22 Raptor, or to be more precise, evolved and enhanced variants of this aircraft. All US legacy aircraft will be decisively outclassed by the PAK-FA, the J-20, and the J-31 when these fighters enter service. The F-35 will be similarly so outclassed, assuming that this project even progresses to any kind of large-scale production”.

I totally agree

How about complement a mixed force of advanced F-15s, F-16s and F-22s? Hopefully this should present a potent combination of flexibility and capability, for instance:

- Advanced F-15s to take on the Su-27/30 Flanker family.

- Advanced F-16s to take on the J-10 and JF-17 and

- F-22s to take on the PAK-FA, J-20 and J-31.

What do you reckon?

Regards Guest


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