Gates’ Latest Claim

Defense Secretary Robert Gates maintains that the 2010 defense budget proposal does not cut the F-22 Raptor force, instead he told lawmakers May 13 during a House Armed Services Committee hearing, that the Pentagon is merely “completing the program of record that was established in 2005 in the Bush Administration.” Further, Gates maintains that two “different Chairmen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff” believe the planned 183 Raptors “was the right number” and, he said, “We now can add the Secretary of the Air Force and the Chief of Staff of the Air Force to that.” It is true that Air Force Secretary Michael Donley and Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz have agreed to the need to limit the F-22 force to 187 (183 plus four added by Congress), but Schwartz said last month after announcement of the “final” number that the military requirement, in his view, is 243 Raptors. We think it’s important to note that during the armed services panel hearing, Gates told the lawmakers that at least two service chiefs “have been very direct” that they disagree with some of his budget decisions and the lawmakers shouldn’t “worry about their candor at all” when they testify.