Dear Members and Friends,
With due respect to the Office of Secretary of Defense for the United States, we recognize former Secretary Robert M. Gates and what he has accomplished in regards to missile defense over the past five years and under two different presidential administrations.
President Obama made critical and controversial missile defense decisions under Robert Gates’ advice, including abandoning the third site in Poland and the Czech Republic, cutting the Airborne Laser, Multiple Kill Vehicle, and Kinetic Energy Interceptor programs, and reducing the number of Ground-Based Interceptors protecting our homeland, which the former Secretary had previously championed under President George W. Bush.
Former Secretary Gates, however, was able to sustain the continued importance of missile defense by redirecting President Obama to value missile defense as an alliance-building tool and a necessity for the Department of Defense and his war fighters.
Under former Secretary Gates, more missile defense assets were developed, matured, and deployed to U.S. combat commanders around the world than during any other period in U.S. history. Among his achievements is a monumental one marked by the NATO-approved expansion of U.S. missile defense over the next ten years focused around the Aegis missile defense system, which will be executed in four phases, to defend and protect Europe; the effort is especially noteworthy considering a belligerent Russia that fought against and continues to oppose this expansion. Under Robert Gates’ advice and direction, the New Start Treaty with Russia was signed, which fought for no limits on the future development and deployment of U.S. missile defenses. Former Secretary Gates also oversaw and approved the successful shoot down of an errant U.S. satellite with the nation’s missile defense system.
Most importantly, under Robert Gates’ watch was the actual use of U.S. missile defense assets to prevent escalation and avoid conflict with North Korea and Iran, who over the past five years have earnestly provoked the United States and their neighboring countries at critical times with offensive ballistic missile demonstrations and political rhetoric, affirming their intent and capability.
Former Secretary Gates’ record is not perfect and has left capability gaps, most notably with our nation’s homeland defense and a hedging strategy against Iran. However, he has with great skill and respect provided consistent funding for missile defense and has moved a majority of congressional members, as well as President Barack Obama, to believe in and support missile defense, making it much more bipartisan and embedded than it has ever been.
For these significant achievements and his public service as the 22nd Secretary of Defense, the Honorable former Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates deserves great appreciation and recognition for what he has done with missile defense on behalf of our country.
Thank you, Dr. Gates, for your leadership through the challenging administrations of two U.S. presidents and the evolution of missile defense over the past five years.