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article imageRobert Gates advises against land war; future wars in air, sea

By Andrew Moran     Feb 26, 2011 in Politics
West Point - In his possible final address to the United States Military Academy, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates gave some blunt advice to his successor: never fight a land war in Africa or Asia, similar to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and the United States’ foreign policy have cost the taxpayers trillions of dollars and lives over many, many years. But is the future of war fought on the ground? Not likely, says Robert Gates.
On Friday, the U.S. Defense Secretary told cadets at the Military Academy that the Army will have to restructure its budget and refocus its mission parameters, such as “prevent festering problems from growing into full-blown crises,” according to the Wall Street Journal.
“Any future defense secretary who advises the president to send a big American land army into Asia, or into the Middle East or Africa should ‘have his head examined,’ as Gen. [Douglas] MacArthur so delicately put it,” said Gates.
Agence-France Presse reports that the possible outgoing Defense Secretary could not say what the next war will be or what the cadets will actually participate in: “We have never once gotten it right, from the Mayaguez to Grenada, Panama, Somalia, the Balkans, Haiti, Kuwait, Iraq, and more -- we had no idea a year before any of these missions that we would be so engaged.”
In the end, Gates says the future of battles will be fought in the air and sea and the military will most likely look at ways to avoid “head-on clashes” against other armies. But Gates did note that the West Point cadets should train themselves for a wide range of potential missions for any kind of future success.
“The military will not be able to train or educate you to have all the right answers -- as you might find in a manual -- but you should look for those experiences and pursuits in your career that will help you at least ask the right questions,” said Gates, notes the Hindustan Times.
CNN reports that he added that they should look outside the armed forces: “Such opportunities might include further study at grad school, teaching at this or another-first rate university, spending time at a think tank, being a congressional fellow.”
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