Gates: Urgent need to cut defense bureaucracy

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* 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 Defense Department must take a hard look at every aspect of how it is organized, staffed and operated — indeed, every aspect of how it does business,” he said in a speech at the Eisenhower Presidential Library and Museum in the former commander in chief’s home town. Gates, also a Kansas native, addressed a crowd of about 300 from the steps of the library at a ceremony marking the 65th anniversary of Nazi Germany’s surrender in World War II.

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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