Washington, Sept.30 : United States Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates has criticized the shock-and-awe strategy of the 2003 Iraq invasion and said the Pentagon's narrow focus on conventional combat operations proved costly when U.S. ground troops had to switch gears to try to stabilize that country.
According to Gates, the Pentagon bureaucracy failed to respond quickly enough to the military's need for innovative counter-insurgency operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.
He called for reforms to make the institution more agile and flexible.
Gates told an audience of military officers at the National Defense University here. "For every heroic and resourceful innovation by troops and commanders on the battlefield, there was some institutional shortcoming at the Pentagon that they had to overcome," he said.
While having a military skilled in fighting major conventional ground wars is essential, Gates said, such a war is unlikely in the near future.
"Be skeptical of systems analysis, computer models, game theories," he warned, adding that officers should "look askance" at notions of future conflict that imply "adversaries can be cowed, shocked or awed into submission, instead of being tracked down, hilltop by hilltop, house by house."
"Why did we have to bypass existing institutions and procedures to get the capabilities we need to protect our troops and pursue the wars we are in?" he said.