Sec. Gates to resign

Gates Going

The Foundry

In the coming months, lots of people will be cranking up their computers and burning up the airwaves with commentary on the just-announced departure of Secretary of Defense Robert Gates sometime in 2011.

Evaluating his legacy as SECDEF when he ultimately leaves next year will be important for the historical record, but the challenges his yet-to-be-named successor will face are more important.

For instance, there’s little doubt that the war in Afghanistan will still be a major focus in 2011 — not to mention the challenge of managing the White House’s mandated draw down next summer. Don’t forget about Pakistan. Plus, with lots of American trainers likely still in Iraq next year, attention will need to be given to that region as well.

And there’s Iran, which will either be a nuclear-weapons state or darn close to being one by the time Gates leaves the E-Ring for the last time. Unfortunately, the current policy approach just isn’t making headway. The new secretary is going to face the less-than-amusing task of handling Tehran’s atomic ayatollahs.

Along the same lines, what will be the status of our missile defenses? An important matter, considering that they provide the best prospects for defending the homeland against the growing Iranian nuclear and ballistic-missile threat. They also protect our troops abroad and allies around the world — yet the program has been pushed back several years. Its success demands attention from the new Pentagon leader.

And what will be the state of our own aging nuclear deterrent — a force in desperate need of modernization — especially in light of the Senate’s consideration of the U.S.-Russia Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) this fall?…

Read the rest at The Foundry.

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