Udall pushes Defense Secy Gates on counterinsurgency

Our national security reporter Spencer Ackerman at the Washington Independent notes a telling exchange this morning at the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing:

Newly arrived Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) asks a question close to my heart: How can Defense Secretary Bob Gates institutionalize the counterinsurgency lessons of Iraq and Afghanistan?

“Two broad approaches,” Gates says. One is “to institutionalize the thinking about counterinsurgency, particularly in the Army.” That means “putting people in the proper places,” like Gen. Marty Dempsey at the U.S. Army’s Training and Doctrine Command, Gen. David Petraeus at U.S. Central Command, Gen. Peter Chiarelli as U.S. Army vice chief of staff, Gen. Ray Odierno as Iraq commander — “all those people really get it.” An institutionally bureaucracy “might be able to beat one or two people,” Gates observes, “but it’s really hard to beat four or five.”

Second is “support for the war fighter in the … development, acquisition and procurement process” that usually favors future combat. “Why did I have to go outside the regular Pentagon bureaucracy to build additional MRAPs?” — the anti-IED vehicle developed for Iraq and Afghanistan and other asymmetric, ground-based combat.

Udall also asked Secy. Gates for a stronger commitment to transparency in the Army’s controversial planned development of Piñon Canyon to expand military training ground.