This time he really means business. Gates sounded the death knell for U.S. Joint Forces command at the beginning of the week and by the end of the week he had his sites trained on the Marine Corps.
In a speech at the Marines’ Memorial Club and Hotel in San Francisco on Thursday, he ordered a thorough force structure review of the Marine Corps. It’s no news that the Corps is prepared to draw down its personnel after operations in Afghanistan wind down. But this goes deeper. He said he wants to determine what an expeditionary force in readiness should look like in the 21st Century.
In his speech, Gates took the audience down the storied path of Marine Corps lore, through the rich history of important and seminal engagements, sacrifice and victory through World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Kuwait, Iraq and Afghanistan, concluding that the nation does not need a second land army.
Gates said he is worried that in a time of austerity the Defense Department may be seen by some legislators as a cash cow to fix funding issues in some other agencies. The spigot of defense spending that was turned up after the attacks of 9/11, he said, is closing.
BLUF: every dollar counts. Stand by for more.