Bob Gates: Flat Out Liar or Just Feeble? + RECAP

04 Inter-State Conflict, 07 Other Atrocities, 10 Security, 11 Society, Budgets & Funding, Corruption, Government, IO Impotency, Military
Winslow Wheeler

For months I have been reading in the press about Robert Gates “cancelling more than 30 [defense hardware] programs.”  A May 24 Bloomberg article by Viole Gienger (“Gates Says Military Cuts May Protect F-35, Submarines”) came up quick on a Google search.  Other articles credit Gates with “saving more than $300 billion” with these – presumably tough – decisions.

In case you are wondering where this imagery of Secretary of Defense Robert Gates as a tough task master for out of control DOD procurement is coming, you need look no further than Robert Gates.

At a May 24 farewell speech to the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, Gates repeated his own claim, made frequently earlier, that “All told, over the past two years, more than 30 programs were cancelled, capped, or ended that, if pursued to completion, would have cost more than $300 billion.”  (See the speech at http//  A bit later he hammered home the point in case any of the press present missed the legacy Gates seeks for himself: “when it comes to our military modernization accounts, the proverbial ‘low hanging fruit' – those weapons and other programs considered most questionable – have not only been plucked, they have been stomped on and crushed.”

Robert Gates did not reduce the number of hardware programs in the Department of Defense; he increased them.  A term he has repeatedly expressed distaste for (“math”) proves him wrong.  DOD keeps periodic records on these sorts of things; DOD's Selected Acquisition Reports (SARs) track the number of major hardware programs and their acquisition costs.  (Find them at

They show the following:

  • In September 2008, just before Barack Obama was elected and selected Robert Gates as his Secretary of Defense, there were 91 Major Defense Acquisition Programs (MDAPs).  They were projected to cost $1,648 billion dollars.

  • In April 2009, Gates announced the termination of various defense programs.  The SAR that next came out, in December 2009, showed the number of MDAPs had indeed declined: to 87 programs, costing a little less ($1,616 billion).

  • Nine months later, after Gates took some more whacks at the defense budget – if that's what you want to call them – the SAR that came out in September 2010 showed the number of MDAPs had increased to 94.  Their cost also increased – to $1,679 billion.

  • The most recent SAR, for December 2010, shows another increase, both in programs (to 95) and money (to $1,720 billion).

So, thanks to Secretary Gates “termination” of more than 30 programs “saving” us $300 billion, we now have an increase of four programs costing an additional $72 billion.

I have two questions:

1) Just what legacy should we be giving Mr. Gates?

2) What type of “math” will Leon Panetta use when he is made Secretary of Defense later this year?

See Also:

1961-2011: 50 Years of The Military-Industrial Complex

DoD Inflation Fraud Costs Taxpayers Billions More

Defense and the Deficit–Busting the Defense Bubble, Ending Defense Entitlement

Why Boeing is Imploding–Spinney, Sprey, & Reality vs Political Engineering & Government Spec Cost Plus

Review: Grand Theft Pentagon–Tales of Corruption and Profiteering in the War on Terror

Review: Prophets of War–Lockheed Martin and the Making of the Military-Industrial Complex

Pentagon Pathology: Follow the Money

Reference: Cutting the Defense Budget + RECAP

Reference: The Pentagon Labyrinth

Bob Gates Spins Exit from Afghanistan

Bob Gates, Chief Maintenance Clerk, Talks Crap — and the Wall Street Journal Goes Along…

Robert Gates: Spendthrift Ace of Double-Speak

David Ignatius Loves Bob Gates

Review: From the Shadows–The Ultimate Insider’s Story of Five Presidents and How They Won the Cold War

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