Gates to stay on as Pentagon head
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Defence Secretary Robert Gates will remain as Pentagon chief in the Obama administration. Gates, who backed a surge in US troops and shifted tactics to send them into Iraqi communities, has been credited with overseeing a turnaround in the war.
A former Cold War spymaster, Gates was president of Texas A&M
Rumsfeld, a star of the early years of the Bush administration, had become a magnet for critics of the deeply unpopular
Gates, now 65, set about putting things back on an even keel with a low-key approach that sought to build constructive relationships but also betrayed a steely firmness of purpose.
"One of my favorite quotes is from
Gates backed the "surge" of some 30,000
The surge, opposed by Obama, is widely credited with helping to avert an all-out civil war and reducing violence in
Gates also sent more troops to
Gates has put a premium on maintaining good relations with allies -- badly damaged over the
HOLDING OFFICIALS ACCOUNTABLE
In an administration that has been widely criticized for not holding people accountable for failures, Gates has held senior leaders at the Pentagon to high standards.
He fired the Army's top civilian last year due to a scandal over the treatment of wounded troops and this year he took the unprecedented step of sacking the top uniformed and civilian officials in the Air Force over nuclear-related blunders.
Members of both parties have praised Gates, a former CIA director, for being candid and courteous with the U.S. Congress.
Asked at his confirmation hearing in 2006 whether the
Gates has sometimes lashed out at the Pentagon bureaucracy. He has accused some military officers and defense industry executives of "next-war-itis" for fixating on possible future conflicts with nation-states instead of concentrating on the current irregular warfare in
"It is true that we would be hard-pressed to launch a major conventional ground operation elsewhere in the world at this time -- but where would we sensibly do that?" he said in May.
That emphasis on irregular warfare worries some military officers, who fear the
Gates circumvented Pentagon procedures to get armored trucks into
He writes condolence notes by hand to the families of all
Unusually for a Pentagon chief, Gates has advocated a larger budget for the State Department and called for greater use of instruments of "soft power" such as diplomacy.
He has also said the military-run prison for terrorism suspects at
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