Thank you, Tom, for that introduction. It was almost exactly a year ago today that my former boss, Secretary Gates, spoke to you on the eve of his departure as Secretary of Defense. In looking back on his tenure as Secretary, he chose to highlight two major themes. The first was his effort to turn the tide in Iraq and Afghanistan.
He spoke to you about his laser-like focus on delivering urgent battlefield needs to the warfighter in Iraq and Afghanistan. When Secretary Gates first hired me in 2009, he told me that the “country’s at war, Ash, but the Pentagon is not.” My job, he explained, was to help him get the Pentagon onto a war footing, especially in acquisition technology and logistics, the part that I was about to take over.
And that has been my focus as well as his, first as AT&L and now as Deputy Secretary of Defense. Under his leadership, we set up a fast lane to get urgent requirements onto the battlefield unhindered by the bureaucracy. We needed better persistent ISR, he said, as did General Petraeus, General Mattis, General McChrystal, General Austin, General Allen. So we worked hard to deliver capabilities like Aerostats with wide-area lenses, and more UAVs, including small UAVs that could be operated by a patrol along their line of march.
Phi Beta Iota: We do not make this stuff up. The gap between the party line as set forth in this speech, and reality, could not be greater.