The effect of falling for the old bird-in-the-bush gambit was predictable (and predicted): They are never as good, cheap or readily available as we are told they will be. Worse yet, as the Washington Times' Bill Gertz reported in his "Inside the Ring" column last week, senior officers are now warning that, as a result, we are ominously ill-prepared to contend with growing challenges to our historic air superiority from Communist China.
Mr. Gates says President Obama's projected cuts will preclude the modernization of two legs of our strategic "Triad." For those who share the Commander-in-Chief's zeal for the U.S. leading the way to "a world without nuclear weapons," the accelerating atrophying of our land-based missile and bomber forces is not only of no concern; it is a desirable thing. For the rest of us who worry about the wisdom of America being the only nuclear power (actual or wannabe) that is systematically engaged in denuclearization, however, the prospect of a future strategic "Monad" is alarming.
The Defense Secretary is rightly concerned about the ability of an all-volunteer force to continue to maintain the operational tempos that have characterized the past decade. Regrettably, the military may confront no-less-daunting requirements in the next decade, too, especially if enemy perceptions that the United States "lost" Iraq and/or Afghanistan translate into expensive new conflicts. Cut the numbers of troops in the Army and Marines, cut their pay andbenefits - both of which Mr. Gates says are in prospect if the President has his way with the Pentagon budget - and that problem becomes infinitely worse.
That could be the effect, as well, if Mr. Gates and outgoing Joint Chiefs Chairman Admiral Michael Mullen certify before leaving office that the military is ready to accept avowed homosexuals. Both have pushed hard for this top Obama agenda item; both know the President wants to get this done in time for June's Lesbian-Gay-Bisexual-Transgender Month festivities.
Yet, both men must appreciate that their successors should be allowed to take a fresh, hard look at the impact this action will actually have on readiness, unit cohesion and retention. Such would be the case especially if that it proves to be as bad as careful analysis of the data predicts - particularly among the combat arms. In that event, the contribution made during Mr. Gates' tenure at the Pentagon to the hollowing-out of the armed forces will be even more severe.
Mr. Gates' warnings about the Obama agenda are indeed welcome. One can only wish he had done less to enable it to date, and pray that he does not make matters worse still before leaving office four weeks from now.
Frank J. Gaffney, Jr. is President of the Center for Security Policy (www.SecureFreedom.org), a columnist for the Washington Times and host of the nationally syndicated program, Secure Freedom Radio, heard in Washington weeknights at 9:00 p.m. on WRC 1260 AM.
Frank Gaffney Jr. is the founder and president of the Center for Security Policy and author of War Footing: 10 Steps America Must Take to Prevail in the War for the Free World .
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