Hogan's Alley

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Mr. Gates Does The Right Thing

Given the total mishandling of the Walter Reed affair over the last week, Defense Secretary Robert Gates stepped up to the plate late yesterday and not only fired the Army Secretary, Francis Harvey, but he also reversed the appointment of the defender of the status quo, Lt. Gen. Kiley.

Here's the heart of the Times' report this morning:

“I am disappointed that some in the Army have not adequately appreciated the seriousness of the situation,” Mr. Gates told reporters. “Some have shown too much defensiveness and have not shown enough focus on digging into and addressing the problems.”

A senior Pentagon official said Mr. Gates had demanded Mr. Harvey’s resignation because he was displeased that Mr. Harvey on Thursday, in dismissing the commander of Walter Reed, temporarily named Lt. Gen. Kevin Kiley to take command. General Kiley, the Army’s top medical officer, had earlier appeared to play down the problems at Walter Reed, where he was in command until 2004.

Mr. Gates’s aggressiveness in addressing the problem has surprised many Pentagon officials who are still getting used to his style more than two months into his service.

Ordered by Mr. Gates to get an acceptable new commander in place by the end of the day, the Army announced late Friday that Maj. Gen. Eric B. Schoomaker, a veteran Army doctor and the brother of the current Army chief of staff, would take over command at Walter Reed.

Gen. Schoomaker's efforts at Walter Reed will have to be watched closely, but he does possess an extensive background that holds some promise.

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