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The Transformer

Interesting article in Foreign Policy on Bob Gates. He’s challenging the status quo and changing the incentives. 

Gates also noticed that the Army’s most innovative colonels — brigade commanders who not only understood counterinsurgency theory but practiced it in Iraqi cities and villages — were getting stalled in their careers by generals with much less battlefield experience and who were wedded to Cold War precepts of combat. So, near the end of 2007, Gates called on Gen. David Petraeus, then the U.S. commander in Iraq and the architect of the counterinsurgency strategy there, to chair that year’s Army promotion board, which would advance 40 colonels to the rank of brigadier general. More than a dozen of the Army’s promising colonels, at least one of whom had been passed over twice, got their stars. With this single stroke, the Army’s culture — the signals sent to the troops of what kind of soldiers get promoted and what kind don’t — changed dramatically

Gates stopped the Air Force’s F-22 Raptor stealth fighter plane, killed whole sections of the Army’s multiplatform Future Combat Systems, and sank the Navy’s DDG-1000 destroyer, to name a few. The F-22 was the great white whale. Many Air Force officers saw it as their dream weapon, the most sophisticated fighter plane in the world. Gates saw it as a Cold War relic at a time when no enemies had fleets of advanced fighter planes and decades after any American pilot had fought an air-to-air duel. The United States already had 187 of these planes (none of which had taken part in any of the wars the United States was fighting), at a cost of $65 billion. The Air Force wanted 381 in all or, as a last-ditch compromise, 247. Gates and his analysts calculated that 187 were enough. After a drawn-out debate, the Senate agreed, defeating an amendment to restore production.

Continue Reading @ Foreign Policy