Gates' Laser Focus on Wars Reshapes Pentagon

By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted May 15, 2009 11:01 AM CDT
David McKiernan, Commander of US Forces in Afghanistan, right, speaks as Robert Gates listens at a Forward Operating Base Airborne in Wardak Province, Afghanistan, Friday, May 8, 2009.   (AP Photo/N Fekarman)
camera-icon View 4 more images

(Newser) – Bush-holdover Robert Gates is using his position in the Obama administration to try to remake Washington’s biggest bureaucracy, refocusing it on the current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Washington Post reports. Gates has pushed the Pentagon to shift from preparing for high-tech conventional wars of the future to the current unconventional conflicts. And thanks to his decisive style, it’s actually happening.

Gates says he gets his ideas by talking with service members. Asked by lawmakers if he’d backed up his revamped budget with rigorous analysis, he replied that the Pentagon was “drowning in analysis.” Meetings with generals rarely outlast 45 minutes. “There is a certainty about what he wants,” says Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, “and you can’t get around it.”