Robert Gates: Public Servant

When President Obama asked Defense Secretary Robert Gates to stay at his post, Gates made clear he would do so out of a sense of public duty, not an affinity for Washington D.C.

What's the Latest Development?


Defense Secretary Robert Gates is retiring after presiding over the country's wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, first as head of the C.I.A. During his exit, he has been candid about controversies like the war in Iraq and the future of N.A.T.O. "Gates was liked for his willingness to say what was obvious but was, vexingly, often left unsaid by Washington politicos—at least publicly. More notably, he seemed open to being on the receiving end of candor, too." Once asked if the U.S. was winning the war in Iraq, he said simply, "No".

What's the Big Idea?

What will Gates be remembered for and what sensitive issues does he leave for his replacement to confront? Certainly the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and certainly the future of N.A.T.O. cohesion. During his tenure as Defense Secretary, Gates was known for his strict accountability: "He made it clear that accountability is not just for the junior ranks, but also for senior officials. In the wake of the Walter Reed scandal, Gates fired the Army surgeon general, the commander of the hospital, and the Secretary of the Army..."

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