The guessing game of who will take over has already begun, but Loren Thompson, a defense analyst and chief operating office off the Arlington, Va.-based Lexington Institute think tank, doesnât begrudge the contenders.
In an op-ed for Defense News, Thompson writes that Gatesâ successor âisn’t likely to wield the same moral authority,â as Gates, who may, in fact, go down in history as the most successful defense secretary, he argues.
âBut while Gates may have been uniquely well-suited to his times,â he adds, âthe times are changing.â
The past 10 years have seen U.S. global economic output flag while defense spending continued to surge, all against the backdrop of an increasing reliance on our main global rival, China, Thompson writes.
And once Gates is gone, the new man or woman atop the Pentagonâs bureaucratic apparatus wonât be able to exempt the department from deficit-reduction plans.
The next defense secretary will have to take good hard look at the departmentâs role, Thompson writes.
âWhoever follows Secretary Gates in the Pentagon’s fabled E-Ring will need to face up to these budgetary realities,â he explains. âIf not, change will be imposed by the White House and Congress — with predictably destructive consequences for military preparedness.â