Just another quickie, passing along some cheery news that left my jaw hanging open. In a shocking reversal of standard bipartisan practice, Secretary of Defense Gates actually wants to scrap some overpriced, unneeded weapons systems. Talk about a move that’s long overdue!

From WaPo (complete with all of Dana Milbank’s melodramatic-yet-frivolous stylings):

“We will end production of the F-22 fighter,” Gates announced matter-of-factly in the hushed Pentagon briefing room yesterday, dispatching Lockheed Martin’s $140-million-a-pop aircraft without even a hint of regret. “For me,” he added, “it was not a close call.”

…But the understated delivery obscured the boldness of what Gates was attempting: Calmly and methodically, he posed a direct challenge to the military-industrial complex.

Boeing’s Future Combat Systems fighting vehicles — kaboom!

Lockheed’s multiple-kill vehicle: killed.

Northrop Grumman and General Dynamics’ DDG 1000 Zumwalt-class destroyer with Raytheon electronics? Gates sunk their battleship.

The Lockheed VH-71 presidential helicopter and Boeing’s C-17 cargo plane? SecDef shot them down, too.

He even wants to cut back on the use of private contractors and return to a focus on civil-service professionals!

Of course, lobbyists and pork-barrel spending being what they are, half of Congress is already lining up to oppose this… with good ol’ Joe Lieberman pushing to the front of the line. Funny how so many of the same people who were so recently concerned about fiscal austerity, when it came to stimulus spending, are suddenly balking at this approach to saving the public’s money. But, of course, they’re merely concerned keeping us all safe from “threats,” right?

Still, there’s at least more hope than there was last week that some prudence and sanity may prevail in the Pentagon. Fred Kaplan over at Slate has some coverage a bit more sober (and detailed) than Milbank’s…

…After Gates was confirmed as George W. Bush’s defense secretary in December 2006, he gave several speeches outlining major reforms that his successor should undertake—in weapons procurement, promotion policy, and the whole careerist culture inside the Pentagon. … When he stayed on at Barack Obama’s request, and thus became his own successor, many wondered whether he would turn his words into action.

With this budget, he has begun to do just that.

(It all reminds me as well of Obama’s exquisitely phrased remarks just this weekend, in Prague, about the American “missile defense” equipment that’s planned—thanks to the previous administration—to be stationed in the Czech Republic. Yes, we’ll move forward with it, he said… but only if (A) the technology actually works, (B) it’s cost-effective, and (C) there’s an actual missile threat from Iran to defend against. IOW, given that none of those eminently reaonable conditions is actually true or ever likely to be, that one’s destined for the scrap heap too…)

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