Gates Says No Program Is Off the Table

In his opening remarks before the Senate Armed Services Committee Jan. 27, Defense Secretary Robert Gates promised to make hard choices on major weapons programs, prompting inevitable questions on certain big ticket programs. Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.), the Senate’s most ardent champion of the F-22, said that the “hard choices” Gates mentioned “directly implicate that program, the C-17, the [KC-X] tanker program, and others.” That concerns Chambliss because “from a stimulus standpoint, we are wrestling with an issue entirely outside the Pentagon.” Using the F-22 as an example, but he said the same would apply to other programs, he noted that the shutdown of the Raptor line would spell the loss of 95,000 jobs on top of the economy’s current woes. As far as stimulating the economy, Chambliss argued, “There’s no better place to do it than in defense spending.” However, Gates made clear in response to an earlier question from Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) about whether the Secretary remained committed to full fielding of the Army’s Future Combat Systems, that he would scrutinize all major programs. He said, “I don’t think anything is off the table at this point.”