Gates: One More Year?

You know how we feel here at SWJ - looks like the President-Elect might feel the same way. Moreover, and while not written in stone, Mr. Gates may just well add one more year on that countdown watch he keeps in his pocket. From Yochi Dreazen at the Wall Street Journal:

President-elect Barack Obama is leaning toward asking Defense Secretary Robert Gates to remain in his position for at least a year, according to two Obama advisers. A senior Pentagon official said Mr. Gates would likely accept the offer if it is made.

No final decision has been made, and Obama aides said other people are also under serious consideration for the defense post, one of the most highly coveted in any new cabinet. Several prominent Democrats, including former Clinton Navy Secretary Richard Danzig and former Clinton Deputy Secretary of Defense John Hamre, are also being considered.

The decision on retaining Mr. Gates will be the clearest indication to date of the incoming administration's thinking about Iraq and Afghanistan...

More at The Wall Street Journal. Now, what's this purple thing you are talking about Spencer? Also see Spencer's Another Year's Worth Of Gates?

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I agree, and it's more than just about Gates being in-the-know concerning counterinsurgency, as Ackerman implies.

Many readers also know how I feel about Rumsfeld (who stood in front of the world and snortled and chuckled about "these things happening" when rioters and looters destroyed any hope of avoiding a costly COIN campaign in Iraq), but oh well, no need to rehearse old wounds and things that make me become psychopathic when I think about them.

Gates is the ultimate anti-Rumsfeld. He isn't just about COIN, but also understands, for example, that while the F-35 will be coming along, the design specifications and requirements of it are different than the F-22. So we need both, but we don't need the F-22 in the numbers that the AF claims. So what position does he take? He cuts the expectations in half, so the AF will have to make do with less for the sake of the campaigns and other programs. Neither COIN-exclusive folks nor the AF is likely happy with this kind of decision, which is one reason it's just the right one to make. Gates has the guts to make the hard calls and explain in detail why he has made them.

I am one of his biggest fans, so the SWJEditors aren't the only ones in his corner (although my endorsement most certainly counts for nothing).

The examples abound, but in short, Gates can shed a tear over wounded warriors, and then turn and kick a** when it's necessary. He understands the boots, and the high tech as well. He has not only the intellect to pull off such a difficult job, but he has the temperament and respect of his subordinates and colleagues to continue to contribute more than anyone else I can think of, and this in the superlative degree.

However, I am suspicious that the new administration won't see it that way. Gates and Mullen have taken the position that the best deterent we have, nuclear weapons, must be refurbished with new Tritium, while the President-elect has taken the position that nuclear weapons must go, the basis of which can only be a juvenile faith in the goodness of mankind and the presupposition that the base state of the world is peace, love, flowers and butterflies.

I am afraid that the stark difference in world views will necessitate that the experience, wisdom and temperament that accrues to Gates will be to no avail.

We'll see, and we'll see what happens to next year's budget and health of our defense forces, and the next ...