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MELBOURNE, Australia, Nov. 7, 2010 -- Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates expressed confidence that the new split-party Congress will support his efficiency initiatives, while expressing hope the lame-duck Congress will pass the new arms reduction treaty and repeal the law prohibiting gays and lesbians from serving openly in the military.

Speaking with reporters en route to the Australia-U.S. Ministerial here, Gates said the efficiency initiatives he's championing should satisfy everyone, regardless of their party affiliation.

"Those who have an intense interest in America's military strength should welcome these efficiencies, because at a time of economic stringency, it is going to make the resources available to invest in more military capability," Gates said. "We are not cutting the defense budget. We are trying to [make] the overhead part of the defense budget leaner and smarter, hoping to be able to add planes, add ships, real military capability.

"One on hand, we will be able to show those who are intensely interested in strong national defense that we are, in fact, enhancing our capabilities and, at the same time, be able to show budget hawks that we are moving aggressively to remove waste and fat from the defense budget and focus on what is really important, which is military capability," he explained.

Gates reiterated his call for the Senate to ratify the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty before it goes out of session in December.

"I think it is in our interest," Gates told reporters, noting that both he and Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, have testified before Congress about why ratification is in U.S. security interests.

Gates resisted predicting how Congress will address the question of repealing the so-called "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy regarding gays and lesbians serving openly in the military.

"I would like to see the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell, but I am not sure what the prospects for that are," he said.

As the legislation is written, the repeal would not go into immediate effect if passed, but would be subject to reviews that include an assessment of its impact on military readiness.

Those findings will be part of a department-wide review due to Gates by Dec. 1.

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16