Three Themes

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates meant to convey three themes in speeches April 21 at the Air War College in Alabama and the US Military Academy in New York, Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell told the Daily Report. First, Gates wants the next generation of leaders to “embrace asymmetrical warfare,” Morrell said. Gates is convinced that future wars will not be like traditional ones, and, therefore, he wants the services to adjust to the fact that “these [insurgencies] are the conflicts we’re in and are likely to face in the future.” Second, Morrell said, Gates wanted to “encourage creative thinking” among service members and embolden them “not be afraid of taking risks.” The SECDEF wants recognition of the fact that the US is at war with “an agile enemy” and the Pentagon bureaucracy can’t afford to take its usual leisurely approach in adapting its methods and hardware for the fight. Third, Gates wanted his listeners to “engage in respectful dissent” with their leaders when they hear or see foolish ideas jelling. “He wants people to speak up” and voice their ideas, such that there is a lively debate about policy, Morrell said. Gates also wants leaders to keep their minds open and listen to what their subordinates are saying. However, once policy is decided, Gates thinks everyone should accept that and “execute it,” Morrell noted.