Congress Should Welcome Defense Efficiencies, Gates Says

MELBOURNE, Aus­tralia, Nov. 6, 2010 — Defense Sec­re­tary Robert M. Gates expressed con­fi­dence that the new split-par­ty Con­gress will sup­port his effi­cien­cy ini­tia­tives, while express­ing hope the lame-duck Con­gress will pass the new arms reduc­tion treaty and repeal the law pro­hibit­ing gays and les­bians from serv­ing open­ly in the mil­i­tary.

Speak­ing with reporters en route to the Australia-U.S. Min­is­te­r­i­al here, Gates said the effi­cien­cy ini­tia­tives he’s cham­pi­oning should sat­is­fy every­one, regard­less of their par­ty affil­i­a­tion.

“Those who have an intense inter­est in America’s mil­i­tary strength should wel­come these effi­cien­cies, because at a time of eco­nom­ic strin­gency, it is going to make the resources avail­able to invest in more mil­i­tary capa­bil­i­ty,” he said. “We are not cut­ting the defense bud­get. We are try­ing to [make] the over­head part of the defense bud­get lean­er and smarter, hop­ing to be able to add planes, add ships — real mil­i­tary capa­bil­i­ty.

“One on hand, we will be able to show those who are intense­ly inter­est­ed in strong nation­al defense that we are, in fact, enhanc­ing our capa­bil­i­ties and, at the same time, be able to show bud­get hawks that we are mov­ing aggres­sive­ly to remove waste and fat from the defense bud­get and focus on what is real­ly impor­tant, which is mil­i­tary capa­bil­i­ty.”

Gates reit­er­at­ed his call for the Sen­ate to rat­i­fy the Strate­gic Arms Reduc­tion Treaty before it goes out of ses­sion in Decem­ber.

“I think it is in our inter­est,” Gates told reporters, not­ing that both he and Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chair­man of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, have tes­ti­fied before Con­gress about why rat­i­fi­ca­tion is in U.S. secu­ri­ty inter­ests.

Gates resist­ed pre­dict­ing how Con­gress will address the ques­tion of repeal­ing the so-called “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” pol­i­cy regard­ing gays and les­bians serv­ing open­ly in the mil­i­tary.

“I would like to see the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, but I am not sure what the prospects for that are,” he said.

As the leg­is­la­tion is writ­ten, the repeal would not go into imme­di­ate effect if passed, but would be sub­ject to reviews that include an assess­ment of its impact on mil­i­tary readi­ness.

Those find­ings will be part of a depart­men­twide review due to Gates by Dec. 1.

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)

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