More Cuts for Robert Gates' Defense Department

August 13, 2010

As a former military officer who served in the Pentagon, I salute Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates's efforts to cut unnecessary or marginally useful expenditures in favor of funding higher-priority programs ["Thousands of defense jobs to be eliminated," front page, Aug. 10].

There's low-hanging fruit right in front of Mr. Gates in his own Office of the Secretary of Defense. In the 1960s, the senior staff of the defense secretary consisted of a deputy secretary, seven assistant secretaries and a director of defense research and engineering.

Most observers agree that Secretary Robert McNamara was able to exercise effective control over the Pentagon with that level of staffing.

Since then, a supervisory layer of undersecretaries, with all their trappings, has been added over the assistant secretaries. Coupled with the addition of some 1,000 staff members over the past decade, this has bloated an already overly large bureaucracy.

Freezing the number of employees in the Office of the Secretary of Defense for the next three years is not enough. Why not streamline the operation, at least somewhat, by returning to the model of the mid-'60s?

Robert G. Gard Jr., Rockville

Robert Gard is a retired lieutenant general, serving 31 years in the United States Army. His letter was originally printed in the Washington Post on August 13, 2010. It can be read here.

Posted by coalition at August 13, 2010 02:52 PM

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