Gates Not Down on USAF

Defense Secretary Robert Gates on April 23 publicly clarified his remarks at the Air War College, denying the harsh criticism of the Air Force widely reported by the media. At a Pentagon press conference Wednesday, Gates said that a close reading of his speech shows “it’s not a dig at the Air Force at all. In fact, a significant part of the speech was full of praise at what the Air Force has done in the Middle East, in Iraq, in Afghanistan, and the whole theater.” Gates pointed to his specific comments about how USAF cargo aircraft have gotten convoys off the road, as well as USAF’s “total control of the air, the medevac capabilities, and so on. So, there was a lot in that speech that praised the Air Force.” Gates said his remark that it’s been like “pulling teeth” to get more intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance assets in-theater was “focused on all the services.” He added that he was trying to jab the “bureaucracy in …the Department of Defense as a whole” and “really had nothing to do with the people downrange. They’re doing an incredible job.”