Secretary Gates is right about the future, but wrong about the defense budget cuts.
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Yet American ground combat vehicles were designed decades ago for a different era and a different war: the 20th century Cold War. Thus, a truly reformed defense budget would have accelerated, not canceled, the Army’s FCS vehicular modernization program. A truly reformed defense budget would have increased, not cut, the Army’s modernization budget.
“A soldier fighting from a vehicle of any sort increases his chance of survival by about an order of magnitude,” writes retired Army General Maj. Robert H. Scales, Jr., the former commandant of the Army War College. “Unfortunately,” Scales notes, “Cold War armored materiel is optimized for wars on a European, not an irregular battlefield.”
In short, Gates’ defense budget fails its own test. However, it is not clear that either the Secretary of Defense or his (few and mostly ineffectual) critics understand this.
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