April 07, 2009

Bob Gates vs. the Congress: Who You Gonna Pick?

I am now back from Quantico, and contrary to rumors voiced to Dave Dilegge, no, I was not contemplating an inter-service transfer. Let's face it: the Army was happy enough to rid themselves of me, so I doubt the Marine Corps would want to sign me up.

One of our readers pointed to this quote by Secretary Gates at the end of yesterday's press conference, which is a nice distillation of his recent must-read piece in Foreign Affairs:

I think that this debate between conventional and irregular is quite artificial. Most of the people that I talk to are now increasingly talking about, instead of one or the other, a spectrum of conflict, in which you may face at the same time an insurgent with an AK-47 and his supporting element with a highly sophisticated ballistic missile - where you have what we have been calling in the last year or so, complex hybrid warfare. And so you really need to be prepared across a spectrum to deal with these capabilities and that’s why, going back to my crude carve-up of the budget of 40% dual purpose, I think we have to be prepared all along that spectrum.

The Congressional response to yesterday's budget was ... well ... just as expected.

James Inhofe should be ashamed of himself -- not for saying the new budget is "gutting" our military and "disarming America" but for traveling all the way to Afghanistan on the tax-payer's dime and failing to discover that the kinds of weapons systems and skillsets needed for Afghanistan are exactly the kinds of weapons systems and skillsets privileged in the budget. Don't use the war in Afghanistan a cheap prop, Senator, if you're not even going to study the nature of the war itself.

But I am struck by something Thom Shanker of the New York Times said on the Diane Rehm Show a few weeks back. He said that if he had to place a bet on Bob Gates or the Congress winning the fight over the budget that he would put his money on Bob Gates. The great Bob Work of CSBA agreed.

So now that March Madness is over and you've nothing else left to bet on, who would get your money? Bob Gates or the Congress? Leave your choice in the comments.