Gates Cites Importance of Transparency, Civilian Expertise

SANTA CRUZ, Bolivia, Nov. 22, 2010 — Trans­paren­cy in defense spend­ing breeds trust among nations, and civil­ian exper­tise is vital to any nation’s defense estab­lish­ment, Defense Sec­re­tary Robert M. Gates said here today.
Gates spoke dur­ing a ple­nary ses­sion of the Con­fer­ence of the Defense Min­is­ters of the Amer­i­c­as, and not­ed that “con­sol­i­da­tion of peace, trust secu­ri­ty and coop­er­a­tion in the Amer­i­c­as” is one of the conference’s major themes.

“Being more open about our nations’ inten­tions and capa­bil­i­ties can gen­er­ate mutu­al trust through­out the hemi­sphere, which the U.S. con­sid­ers to be an impor­tant nation­al inter­est,” the sec­re­tary said.

Not­ing that the U.S. pres­i­dent dis­sem­i­nates a nation­al secu­ri­ty strat­e­gy and the Defense Depart­ment con­ducts and pub­lish­es a thor­ough review every four years, Gates said the Unit­ed States takes the same approach to defense spend­ing.

“For exam­ple,” he said, “in addi­tion to sub­mit­ting defense bud­gets annu­al­ly and pub­licly to our Con­gress, each year the Unit­ed States takes part in the Unit­ed Nations instru­ment for report­ing mil­i­tary expen­di­tures.” This report, he explained, cov­ers mil­i­tary-relat­ed expen­di­tures on costs for train­ing and oper­a­tions, per­son­nel, main­te­nance, pro­cure­ment, con­struc­tion, and research and devel­op­ment.

“It is a com­pre­hen­sive account­ing of U.S. defense spend­ing,” the sec­re­tary said, “and we are proud to be a par­tic­i­pant.”

Gates added that he has direct­ed his staff to work with State Depart­ment offi­cials to re-eval­u­ate the Inter-Amer­i­can Con­ven­tion on Trans­paren­cy in Con­ven­tion­al Weapons Acqui­si­tions and to deter­mine the prospects for sub­mit­ting it to the Sen­ate for rat­i­fi­ca­tion. The con­ven­tion requires nations that sign and rat­i­fy it to report annu­al­ly on weapons exports and imports and to make time­ly noti­fi­ca­tions of weapons acqui­si­tions, whether import­ed or pro­duced domes­ti­cal­ly.

Anoth­er theme of the con­fer­ence here -– “Democ­ra­cy, Armed Forces, Secu­ri­ty and Soci­ety” –- gives West­ern Hemi­sphere nations a chance to exam­ine how to strength­en civil­ian capac­i­ties in their defense min­istries, Gates said.

“Civil­ian exper­tise in defense mat­ters is cru­cial,” he said. “In fact, it is a crit­i­cal pre­req­ui­site for civil­ian con­trol of the mil­i­tary, itself a key com­po­nent of true democ­ra­cy.”

To help West­ern Hemi­sphere part­ners strength­en the civil­ian exper­tise in their defense struc­tures, Gates said, The Cen­ter for Hemi­spher­ic Defense Stud­ies has offered to host work­shops and has com­mit­ted to pro­vide two schol­ar­ships to its cours­es for each of the nations rep­re­sent­ed at the con­fer­ence. Such exchanges, he added, fos­ter mutu­al under­stand­ing.

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

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