Gates Versus the Air Force

Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates’ book, “Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War,” paints a highly unflattering picture of the Air Force; a service he describes as “one of my biggest headaches” during his five-year tenure as head of the Pentagon. USAF, in Gates’ view, was an unwilling partner in the wars in Southwest Asia, “superbly” but begrudgingly performing airlift, aeromedical evacuation, and close air support. He upbraids the service for a preoccupation with big wars and a practically insubordinate performance on supplying intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance. But Gates’ book reveals he brought a distinctly anti-Air Force bias with him to the job; despite his being a veteran of the service. His attitudes caused real problems for USAF, as Gates proceeded to slash its most important programs and decapitate its leadership. (Read the full report)