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Reactions to Gates’ Navy League Speech

May 5, 2010

The first comes from  Paul McLeary at the Ares blog, that pretty much sums everything up:

“Secretary of Defense Robert Gates made a roomful of Navy officers and Naval industry types choke on their lunch yesterday afternoon at the Air Sea Space convention…”

“You could hear a pin drop in the luncheon hall at Sea Air Space on Monday when Defense Secretary Robert Gates went straight after two topics dear to the hearts of attendees and Navy League members across the U.S.: Amphibious warfare and aircraft carriers.” Phil Ewing Scoop Deck

“Defense Secretary Robert Gates made clear in his speech yesterday at the Navy League’s annual conference that the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments (CSBA) is the real brain trust…Gates borrowed from CSBA president Andrew Krepinevich’s Foreign Affairs article, “The Pentagon’s Wasting Assets,” when he said the U.S. “virtual monopoly” on precision weapons is eroding, long-range precision anti-ship missiles are proliferating, putting carriers and “other large, multi-billion dollar blue-water surface combatants” at risk of becoming “wasting assets.”–Greg Grant Defense Tech

“When ending the fifth-generation fighter jet, Gates stressed the Air Force’s vast superiority to the tactical fighter fleets of other nations. But in his speech Monday, he drew on the same logic when talking about the Navy’s future destroyers, submarines and carriers.” Jen Dimascio Politico

“Changing the Navy means outlobbying the shipbuilding industry. That could turn out to be the fight of a lifetime.” David Axe

“For armored-vehicle maker General Dynamics (NYSE: GD), it was more like: What’s this about the Marines wanting $13.2 billion for amphibious assault craft? If memory serves, it’s been 65 years since we last asked ’em to go island hopping. And on the off chance they do need to cross the surf to attack some foreign land, is there a situation where Textron’s (NYSE: TXT) and United Technologies’ (NYSE: UTX) helicopters and transport aircraft wouldn’t serve the purpose for most conceivable threats this side of China? Why float when you can fly?” Rich Smith The Motley Fool

“Now, please, cancel the F-35 B/C, begin to consider a sixth-generation aircraft (less expensive, including a UAV version), stop the giant aircraft-carrier (cancel CVN-79, CVN-80) and immediately begin to consider 2 future type of “aircraft-carriers”: a smaller 50/65000 tons pure carriers, and maybe a hybrid “UAV-carrier/destroyers” of 9000/13000 tons (similar to the BAE “UVX” concept), stop to think that the Arleigh Burke design is “eternal” (the Flight III DDG are scheduled to be built until 2030 … a dramatic folly). And stop your nonsense with the LCS.”  Mike Colombaro Combat Fleet of the World

 “I believe Secretary Gates is responding to pressure resulting from the Administration’s unwillingness to commit to an appropriate level of national defense spending. Although the Administration is very willing to tremendously expand entitlement programs, its lack of prioritization of national defense spending is in my opinion adding to the Secretary’s inclination to entertain the downsizing of our naval capacity.” US Congressman Todd Akin

“Comparing sub and carriers to dreadnoughts must leave ship drivers bereft… The tepid applause that greeted Gates’ speech demonstrated pretty clearly that the Navy, Marine Corps and their friends got the message.” Colin Clark DoD Buzz

“Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has already taken aim at the Air Force’s favorite project, the F-22 Raptor Stealth fighter, and he schwacked the Army’s beloved Future Combat Systems. Now he’s letting the Navy know that their sacred cow — the carrier strike group — is next.  (If I was a sailor, I’d call it a rhetorical warning shot across the bow.)” Nathan Hodge Wired’s Danger Room

“I wouldn’t go so far as to say the future is rosy for anyone who builds Navy ships.” Christopher Hellman Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation via


7 Comments leave one →
  1. Mike Burleson permalink*
    May 24, 2010 8:53 pm

    Pat, thanks for your input and your service. I agree that Gates is only responding to what other administrations have kicked down the line. A great change occurred with the fall of the Berlin Wall, but the Navy has been extremely reluctant to act on this. I think in many ways we have gone backward since then, giving up many capabilities which were hard-won, like ASW and keeping things not so vital, but certainly very costly, and as you pointed out, increasingly hard to produce on time and within a budget.

    If not Gates, it would have been someone else forced to yell STOP at the unbridled Pentagon spending.

  2. Pat E. permalink
    May 24, 2010 3:08 pm

    As a Naval veteran with a career both active and reserve I have been apart of many changes within the Navy community from 1986 through to 2006. I Love the U.S. Navy and always will.
    That being said I believe that the Navy has done itself as much a disservice as the other branches have to themselves. Throughout the 20th and now the 21st century the Navy has had some notable failures costing millions if not billions in tax dollars. ex. Seawolf! It has also, in my opinion, not truly utilized it resources and assets to fullest extent possible. Spruance class destroyers come to mind as well as the Ticonderoga class cruisers. I believe Gates is between the proverbial ” Rock and a Hard place ” in determining what to pursue and what to give up given the continued course of the current admin. but also, and just as damaging, the Pentagons lust affair with “cutting edge” aka untested and ALWAYS WAY PAST BUDGET systems.

  3. Mike Burleson permalink*
    May 6, 2010 3:32 am

    “if we’re overspending on weapons that we’d at least be getting our money’s worth in terms of force effectiveness.”

    Seems the more we spend the smaller we are getting. Trying to sustain legacy building practices in a new era, you get less value for your money. Like a sponge, no matter how much you throw at it, it will never be enough.

  4. Jacob permalink
    May 5, 2010 11:18 pm

    Is the military-industrial complex really that out of control? I was under the impression that if we’re overspending on weapons that we’d at least be getting our money’s worth in terms of force effectiveness.

  5. Joe K. permalink
    May 5, 2010 9:22 pm

    Correction: his statement was naive

  6. Joe K. permalink
    May 5, 2010 9:20 pm


    And naive.

  7. May 5, 2010 3:53 pm

    Rich Smith’s nom de plume is apt.

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