Gates: Never Fight A Land War In Asia

Posted on February 28, 2011


Did anyone not see this coming. I believe this was in the back of everyone’s mind (“we’ll never do that again) but this is the first public policy prouncement of such consideration. Looks like the Army has a budget fight on it’s hand.

Washington Wire (
February 25, 2011

Gates: Never Fight A Land War In Asia

By Julian E. Barnes

The U.S. Army must be prepared for a wide range of future wars, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Friday. But don’t count on fighting a land war in Asia–or the Middle East or Africa for that matter.

Mr. Gates said the U.S. will need swift-moving expeditionary and special-operation forces to respond to disasters, counter terrorism or conduct stability operations.

But a state-on-state land war with tanks and artillery? Don’t count on it.

Mr. Gates was skeptical that the U.S. Army or Marine Corps would be asked to fight a “high-end” war and said a “head-on clash of large mechanized land armies” was unlikely.

“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,” Mr. Gates told an audience of West Point cadets Friday.

Mr. Gates said the odds of again engaging in a war like Iraq or Afghanistan was low, but he said unconventional, counter-insurgency techniques will still be needed.

In the future, using the Army to help train other nation’s security forces may help prevent the need for a long-term presence by a large American ground forces.

As part of the coming transformation of the Army, Mr. Gates also said the service must end the era of “automatic promotions” caused by the Iraq and Afghanistan wars’ intensive need for manpower. Repeated deployments have left the army “numb to individual performance,” Mr. Gates said.

The Army, Mr. Gates said, has in some respects become risk-adverse and needs to adopt a more aggressive, merit-based approach to officer evaluations. He suggested the current system “too often incentivizes officers to keep their head down and avoid making mistakes or disagreeing with superiors.”