* By Robert Burns Washington Times *
Abilene, Kansas (AP) – Warring against waste, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Saturday he is ordering a top-to-bottom paring of the military bureaucracy in search of at least $10 billion in annual savings needed to prevent an erosion of U.S. combat power.
He took aim at what he called a bloated bureaucracy, wasteful business practices and too many generals and admirals, and outlined an ambitious plan for reform that’s almost certain to stir opposition in the corridors of Congress and Pentagon.
The library was a fitting setting for Gates to caution against unrestrained military spending. In his farewell address to the nation from the Oval Office in January 1961, President Dwight D. Eisenhower famously warned of the “grave implications” of having built during that war an enormous military establishment and a huge arms industry that could wield undue influence in American society.
“Eisenhower was wary of seeing his beloved republic turn into a muscle-bound, garrison state — militarily strong but economically stagnant and strategically insolvent,” Gates said. He recalled Eisenhower’s impatience with a mindset within the military that often sought to add new weaponry without regard for cost or efficiency — “pile program on program,” as he once put it.
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