WASHINGTON — The U.S. military must do more to improve its ability to respond to the low-intensity, irregular fights it is likely to face in the years to come, even if the nation avoids another experience like Iraq or Afghanistan, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said.
Gates wrote in an article released Thursday that the fight against extremism was a "prolonged, worldwide, irregular campaign."
The article, though never mentioning his predecessor by name, criticizes former Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld for thinking that U.S. forces could notch a quick and easy victory with the "shock and awe" of its conventional might.
"We should look askance at idealistic, triumphalist or ethnocentric notions . . . that imagine it is possible to cow, shock or awe an enemy into submission, instead of tracking enemies down hilltop by hilltop, house by house, block by bloody block," Gates wrote.
The article, which will be published in the January edition of Foreign Affairs magazine, sums up the two years Gates has spent under President Bush. But with President-elect Barack Obama's announcement this week that Gates will remain at the Pentagon, the article also offers a road map to many of the Defense secretary's priorities.