Robert Gates calls Army spending 'vexing'

May 27, 2011 at 6:52 PM
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WASHINGTON, May 27 (UPI) -- Defense Secretary Robert Gates called the U.S. Army's expenditure of $32 billion on failed weapons programs since 1995 "vexing and disturbing."

The Washington Post reported an Army study not released to the public indicated 22 Army weapons programs were shut down and never built -- some after 20 years of research and development -- building to a cost of $32 billion.

The Army called the efforts "unacceptable;" Defense Secretary Robert Gates went further.

"Since 9/11, a near doubling of the Pentagon's modernization accounts -- more than $700 billion over 10 years in new spending on procurement, research and development -- has resulted in relatively modest gains in actual military capability." That outcome is both "vexing and disturbing," Gates said in an address last week.

Gates said there would be no more "no-questions-asked funding requests," and the services would have to fix up the equipment they have while taking a more deliberate approach to weapon development.

Instead of going with old Cold War muscle and might strategy, the Defense Department and Pentagon leaders are finally questioning whether advanced weapon systems are effective in wars of hearts and minds as in Vietnam and Iraq in which the enemy fought amid a civilian population with basic but deadly weapons, the Post reported.

"It's just time now, with at least one war winding down and another we hope will be winding down and funding definitely coming down, to take a pause, relook where we are and go forward from there in a thoughtful way," said Thomas Hawley, deputy undersecretary of the Army.

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