Robert Gates

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Robert Gates
Robert Gates, official DoD photo portrait, 2006.jpg
22nd United States Secretary of Defense
From: December 18, 2006-July 1, 2011
President George W. Bush
Barack Hussein Obama
Predecessor Donald Rumsfeld
Successor Leon Panetta
Party Independent
Spouse(s) Becky Gates

Robert Michael Gates was the twenty-second Secretary of Defense. He served in the Obama Administration and previously served in the second Bush administration. He took office after the forced resignation of Donald Rumsfeld. Gates is a registered independent because when working at the Central Intelligence Agency, he believed he should be apolitical; however, he has said "I consider myself a Republican",[1] and gave financial contributions to President George W. Bush's 2004 reelection campaign.[2] Gates is given credit for quelling the Iraq insurgency.

Early life

Gates was born on September 25, 1943, in Wichita, Kansas. He received a scholarship to the College of William and Mary in Virginia and graduated in 1965 with a B.A. in history. While attending William and Mary, he was very involved in the Young Republicans, and even became the chapter's president. He went on to receive a graduate degree in history from Indiana University and a Ph.D. in Russian and Soviet history from Georgetown University.

Early Public Service

Gates served in the United States Air Force in Vietnam from 1967 to 1969, a time when much of the rest of the nation had abandoned the strategy of Containment abroad. Immediately thereafter, he began working with the CIA as an investigator.

Gates was first nominated for the position of Director in 1987. However, due to negative media spin about the Iran-Contra Affair, in which Gates helped the spread of Democracy, the Senate failed to ratify his appointment.

However, in 1991, George H. W. Bush renominated Gates due to his hard work and staunch American values. This time, a more responsible Congress approved, and Gates won the appointment he had earned. True to the American Dream, Gates had worked his way up from the position of entry-level investigator all the way up to Director and is the only officer in the CIA to have done so.

In 1993, Robert Gates left the CIA and became a lecturer at a number of prestigious universities. He continued this until 1999, when he was hired as the Dean of the George Bush School at Texas A&M, a position he held until 2001. In 2002 he took on the position of President of Texas A&M, becoming one of the university's most popular presidents and greatly expanding the school. In 2004 he hosted a Christian event called "President's Day" for children from Bryan, Texas, who were part of the Children's Evangelism Fellowship.

Secretary of Defense

On November 8, 2006, George W. Bush followed in his father's footsteps by appointing Gates to the position of Secretary of Defense after Donald Rumsfeld's resignation. He used that position to continue to fight the War in Iraq. In 2008, it was announced that Gates would remain Secretary of Defense for at least a year under the administration of incoming President Barack Obama, so as to ensure a smooth process regarding how the situation in the Middle East was handled. This move has been criticised by people on both ends of the spectrum, and praised by others. Gates is expected to remain as Defense Secretary through 2010.[3]

Comments on the value of a free press:

  • "When it identifies a problem, as at Walter Reed, the response of senior leaders should be to find out if the allegations are true, as they were at Walter Reed, and if so, say so," Mr. Gates said. "And then act to remedy the problem. If untrue, then be able to document that fact. ... The press is not the enemy and to treat it as such is self-defeating."[4]

Afghanistan war

see Afghanistan War

General McChrystal

In Aug. 2009, General Stanley A. McChrystal, the top U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan, said the Afghan government was riddled with corruption and NATO was being undermined by tactics that alienate civilians. He called the Taliban insurgency "a muscular and sophisticated enemy" that uses modern propaganda and systematically reaches into Afghanistan's prisons to recruit members and even plan operations. McChrystal alerted Washington that he urgently needs more forces within the next year; without them, he warned, the eight-year conflict "will likely result in failure."[5]

American policy was increasing set by Defense Secretary Robert Gates, originally appointed by President Bush in 2006 and reappointed by President Obama in 2009. Gates fired the commander General David McKiernan in May, 2009, replacing him with McChrystal.
Obama plan to add 30,000 troops in early 2010
Gates insisted on dropping the old strategy of hunting down insurgents and instead adopting a counterinsurgency strategy that focused on protecting local civilians and training Afghan soldiers and police to take over the job. Gates convinced Obama, who ordered 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan in Dec. 2009, with a deadline of 18 months, at which time a transition to Afghan responsibility would begin. Liberals though Obama and Gates were making a big mistake—heading into another quagmire like Vietnam. However liberal Democrats in Congress will not try to block Obama's proposals. Most conservatives, on the other hand, see victory in Afghanistan as a vital national goal and approve the new strategy, while voicing objections to the 18-month deadline.

Other appointments and honors

Gates is presently the head of the National Eagle Scout Association. Gates is an Eagle Scout, and has won the National Security Medal, the Presidential Citizens Medal, the National Intelligence Distinguished Service Medal and two occasions, and the CIA's highest honor, the Distinguished Intelligence Medal on three separate occasions.


  4. Gates addresses Navy class - May 25, 2007
  5. Bob Woodward, "McChrystal: More Forces or 'Mission Failure Washington Post Sept 21, 2009