Barnett makes the case that Robert Gates is the man he should be:
Case in point: All of this bureaucratic reorganizing at the Pentagon coincided with our Navy's slow-motion (but ultimately elegant) rescuing of a ship from Somali pirates. Eventually, we sent in a destroyer with enough firepower to lay waste to everything of value in Somalia, and yet the endgame consisted of SEAL snipers dispatching of three teenagers who arguably never had a chance for any better outcome in life.
At the end of the day, then, our government needs to ask itself if the new defense budget moves America closer to or further away from the world as we find it evolving. As somebody who's argued for many years about "downshifting" the Pentagon's strategic perspective — and resources — from large conflicts to small ("system administration," as I like to call it), Gates turns out to be the seminal figure I hoped he would become. Assuming his continued success, he arguably goes down as President Obama's most influential first-term cabinet pick.
Why? This Gates-led rebalancing constitutes only the second such momentous shift in American history. Prior to World War I, our military was configured primarily for small wars — namely, the Indian wars of our westward expansion. Since World War II, American forces have been used overwhelmingly in small-war situations, even as our budgetary bias toward the big-war force remained unchallengeable. Until now, that is.
The Systems Admininstration force is the right kind of force for America. It means a General Honore in every corner of the world in armed conflict and post-disaster chaos where the US has an opportunity and an interest in stability.