Terror war seen shifting to covert tactics under Gates
Robert Gates with former President George Bush at a recent Texas A&M game.
The key architect of the U.S.-led international war on terror is being replaced and the new defense secretary, Robert M. Gates, is expected to pursue more conciliatory and less aggressive tactics, according to U.S. defense officials.
Former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld pressed the U.S. military, especially its special operations components, to conduct more aggressive operations aimed at killing, capturing and otherwise disrupting foreign terrorist networks and their supporters. He once asked a four-star general in charge of special operations, “have you killed any terrorists today?” to highlight his priority.
Gates by contrast is a career intelligence analyst with no military experience and no experience in running a large department of government. He comes from the so-called “realist” school of national security affairs that includes one of his key mentors, former National Security Adviser Brent Scowcroft, a vehement critic of the Iraq war and the aggressive tactics of the overall global war on terrorism.
Gates is expected to shift the priority away from the use of military force and more towards intelligence and covert action techniques, which could prove in the long run to be a successful strategy if U.S. intelligence is beefed up.
Gates’ picks for key positions within the Pentagon over the next several months are expected to include former intelligence aides and others who share his views.