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Old 05-15-2008, 10:53 PM
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MTI MTI is offline
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Supporting the Troop, But No Ribbon

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Defense Secretary Robert Gates said on Thursday he wants to see major changes in three areas before he leaves the Pentagon -- unmanned aircraft, protective gear for troops and medical care for the wounded.

The Pentagon's failure to adequately address those issues quickly once the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan began reflected a "leadership shortcoming," said Gates, who replaced Donald Rumsfeld at the Pentagon in late 2006.

He blamed a lack of vision and urgency, and said an assumption that the wars would be short led Pentagon leaders to keep their spending focused on future weapons systems rather than technologies that could help troops in combat now.

"Preoccupied with future capabilities and procurement programs, wedded to lumbering peacetime process and procedures, stuck in bureaucratic low gear, the needs of those in combat too often were not addressed urgently or creatively," he said in remarks prepared for delivery to a group of business executives in Washington.

In addition to unmanned aircraft and protective equipment, Gates listed outpatient care and support for the wounded as a "top management priority" after a Washington Post investigation last year found troops facing rodent-infested housing and bureaucratic hurdles at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

"Every day, my signature on a piece of paper sends our brave men and women in harm's way," Gates said in his prepared remarks.

"At the end of the day, I must be able to look them in the eye -- be they in Kandahar or Ramadi or Walter Reed -- and tell them truthfully that this wealthy and generous country has done everything possible for them."

Better late, than never.

Last edited by MTI; 05-15-2008 at 11:01 PM.
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