SIMI VALLEY, United States (AFP) – Leon Panetta and Robert Gates, two former directors of the CIA and Defense Department, on Saturday criticised President Barack Obama’s “micromanagement” of the military.
“For the past 25 to 30 years, there has been a centralisation of power in the White House,” Panetta said during a panel discussion at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation.
“Because of that centralisation of authority at the White House, there are too few voices that are being heard.”
Without naming the Obama administration, Panetta said that “by the time you get to the White House, the staff has already decided” what should be done.
Panetta served the Obama administration as head of the Central Intelligence Agency between 2009 and 2011, and Defense Department chief between 2011 and 2013.
Robert Gates, director of the CIA under former president George HW Bush and secretary of defense under George W Bush and Obama from 2006 to 2011, directly criticised Obama’s White House.
He said there was a long history of disagreement between the president and military advisers but that “micromanagement” of the military sets the Obama administration apart.
“My concern in terms of this relationship of the White House and the military is not on the big issues,” Gates told an audience at the presidential foundation in Simi Valley, California.
“It’s in the increasing desire of the White House to control and manage every aspect of military affairs.”
He compared the Obama administration to that of Lyndon Johnson, who “personally chose” military targets in the Vietnam war.
“It was the micromanagement that drove me crazy,” Gates said.
The former defense chief said Obama’s administration stands in contrast to both Bush administrations, where once a decision was made, there was “no micromanagement.”