Thursday, November 16, 2006

What About Bob?

Fitting along with the last few weeks of class discussing architecture of the national security establishment and bureaucratic culture was yesterday's op-ed in the Times by John Deutch, former DCI and deputy Secretary of Defense under President Clinton.

Deutch offers a cogent rationale for why Robert Gates is the right man and the right place and the right time for the Bush Administration. Basically, Deutch (a unique figure himself in the leadership roles he had in both Defense and the CIA) argues that Gates' intricate knowledge of the inner-workings of both the Pentagon and Langley make him the kind of cross-(bureaucratic)cultural animal we need after six years on increasing duplication of efforts between the Pentagon and the intelligence community.

"Perhaps nobody is better suited than Mr. Gates for reforming the military’s intelligence operations. The revamping of the government’s intelligence community in 2004 has been a mixed success. One important shortcoming is the Defense Department’s continued use of its considerable intelligence budget to run its programs in isolation from the other intelligence agencies.

Mr. Gates surely understands the need to integrate the military’s intelligence operations with those of other agencies. The Pentagon should stop competing with other agencies over collection and dissemination of information, and become more of an informed user of intelligence gathered by the multiagency intelligence community."

This point suggests Gates' relationship with the DNI will be crucial towards this end (isn't this what the DNI was supposed to accomplish in the first place?); however, to the extend that is true it seems Gates is uniquely well suited for that role.


Dr. Duke Nukem said...

The problems, if any, with Bob are whether or not he will be capable of handling the job ahead of him. A number of former SoD Rumsfeld's failures were related to problems he inherited from the previous administrations (for example, the budget and troop cuts under Bush Sr. and Clinton). Now, Rumsfeld made some mistakes of his own. So Gates is getting two heaping helpings of sh*t on his plate, and he hasn't even ordered yet.

There is no question as to Mr. Gates' strengths. He is a palatable choice, unlikely to offend either incumbent Republicans or incoming Democrats. He is strongly qualified to carry out the necessary upgrades and improvements in intelligence gathering. Problem is, that's not the main job of the SoD.

The concerns are over Gates' weaknesses. He's known as being a compromiser and a negotiator; this sounds great, for working with the political side of national security. But what about the military side? The military took orders from Rumsfeld, not the other way around. There is concern that Gates may not know how to address the military brass' attempt to regain authority.

Additionally, what are some of the the real benefits and downsides to having a heavy presence of intel. folks in the Pentagon? Ideally, we'll finally have troops getting the intelligence they need, effective Arab spy network, and some improved behind-the-scenes operations against the insurgency.

Who knows.

Either way, there are a lot of hopes pegged on Mr. Gates now. Will he withstand the criticism he's going to receive as the occupier of the giant red target that was Rumsfeld's seat?

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