Archive for the ‘Secretary of Defense’ Category

Gates agrees to stay on at defense post

November 26, 2008

By Sara A. Carter
The Washington Times
Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates has agreed to remain at his post if asked by President-elect Barack Obama, sources close to the defense chief told The Washington Times.

Mr. Obama has also settled on the Republican defense secretary as his choice for the post, the Associated Press reported.

Mr. Gates has won bipartisan praise on Capitol Hill for the reduction of violence in Iraq and for his overall management of the Pentagon.

He would be in a position to help lead a smooth transition between administrations at a time when the United States is preparing to withdraw forces from Iraq and send additional troops to battle a resurgent Taliban in Afghanistan.

His selection would also allow the incoming president to concentrate on the financial crisis without having to worry about upheaval at the Pentagon.

Mr. Obama reportedly made the decision to ask Mr. Gates to stay for at least the first year. The announcement was expected after the Thanksgiving holiday.

“It’s a done deal,” ABC reported Tuesday, citing a source close to the decision-making process.

Officials in the Obama transition team said they could not immediately confirm the reports.



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Gates fends off questions on Pentagon future

November 14, 2008

With a smile and a no comment, US Defense Secretary Robert Gates fended off speculation Wednesday that president-elect Barack Obama may ask him to stay at the Pentagon.

It was the first question put to Gates at a media availability after he met here with Estonian Prime Minister Andrus Ansip: had he had any discussions with Obama or his representatives about the defense chief’s job?


Defense Secretary Robert Gates, seen here in October 2008 at ...
U.S. Secretary of Defense Bob Gates. 
(AFP/Getty Images/File/Logan Mock-Bunting)

Gates smiled mischievously and said: “I have nothing new to say on the subject.”

His future has been a subject of intense speculation since a top Obama foreign policy adviser, Richard Danzig, told reporters October 2 that Gates had been a good defense secretary and “would be a better one in an Obama administration.”

The Wall Street Journal, citing two unnamed advisers to the president-elect, said Tuesday that Obama was leaning toward asking Gates to stay on at the Pentagon for a least a year.

That would help smooth the transition at a time when the country is embroiled in two wars and faces potential challenges from Iran, North Korea and Russia.

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Bob Gates: Best Secretary of Defense for Next President is Now On The job

October 12, 2008

By Nancy Soderberg and Brian Katulis
The Washington Post
Sunday, October 12, 2008; Page B01

Here’s a free piece of advice to President Barack Obama or President John McCain: There’s no need to look for a new secretary of defense. You already have the best man in the job.

The Obama campaign in particular seems to have noticed the virtues of Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates. It’s a little head-spinning to see senior Democrats lauding a Bush cabinet officer in the heat of the campaign, but earlier this month, Richard Danzig, the former Navy secretary who has become one of Obama’s closest national security aides, said that many of Gates’s pragmatic policies at the Pentagon “are things that Senator Obama agrees with and I agree with.” Danzig added that Gates could do “even better” if he stayed on the job in an Obama administration.

Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates listens to a reporter's ... 
Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates listens to a reporter’s question during a press availability on Wednesday, Oct. 8, 2008, in Ohrid, Macedonia. (AP Photo/Pool, Haraz N. Ghanbari)

The case for Gates goes beyond the obvious question of assisting the next president in handling Iraq, which Gates has helped haul back from the brink of total collapse. But he has also been instrumental in launching a sweeping revolution in U.S. national security.

Gates has found space to do so since, with the exception of Vice President Cheney, the hard-liners who populated the first Bush term are now gone. Instead of outspoken ideologues such as Douglas Feith and John Bolton, we now have competent functionaries such as National Security Adviser Stephen J. Hadley. Even Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who played cheerleader to the addled muscle-flexing policies of the first term, has surrounded herself with career diplomats and is actually listening to them. The administration that didn’t do nation-building and wouldn’t talk to the “axis of evil” is doing both.

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Gates says Air Force not doing enough in Iraq war effort

April 21, 2008

WASHINGTON (AP) – Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Monday the Air Force is not doing enough to help in the Iraq and Afghanistan war effort, complaining that some military leaders are “stuck in old ways of doing business.”

Gates said in a speech at Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala., that getting the Air Force to send more surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft to Iraq and Afghanistan has been “like pulling teeth.”

The US Air Force Thunderbird team performs in 2004. A US air ...
The US Air Force Thunderbird team performs.
(AFP/File/Kim Jae-Hwan)

Addressing officer students at the Air Force’s Air University, the Pentagon chief praised the Air Force for its overall contributions but made a point of urging it to do more and to undertake new and creative ways of thinking about helping the war effort instead of focusing mainly on future threats.

“In my view we can do and we should do more to meet the needs of men and women fighting in the current conflicts while their outcome may still be in doubt,” he said. “My concern is that our services are still not moving aggressively in wartime to provide resources needed now on the battlefield.”

He cited the example of drone aircraft that can watch, hunt and sometimes kill insurgents without risking the life of a pilot. He said the number of such aircraft has grown 25-fold since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

He said he has been trying for months to get the Air Force to send more surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft, like the Predator drone that provides real-time surveillance video, to the battlefield.

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Gates considers US force levels for Iraq

March 21, 2008
By LOLITA C. BALDOR, Associated Press

WASHINGTON – Top U.S. military leaders presented Defense Secretary Robert Gates with their strategy for future force levels in Iraq Thursday, including expected recommendations for a pause in troop cuts for as much as six weeks later this summer.
The hourlong videoconference marked the start of what will be a series of meetings, presentations and congressional testimony over the next two weeks that will assess the military, political and economic progress in Iraq.

During the Pentagon meeting, Gates and Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, heard from the top commander in the Middle East, Adm. William Fallon, and the U.S. commander in Iraq, Gen. David Petraeus.

Officials said little about the discussions, but there was no indication Petraeus had backed off his call for a brief pause in troop cuts after July in order to see what effect the lower force levels have on violence in Iraq.

The key questions that Petraeus will face — and that are still unanswered — include how long will the pause will have to last in order to assess the security trends, how many troops will be able to come home once that period is over and if that will allow the Pentagon to reduce Army deployments from the current 15 months to 12 months, beginning with those who head to war in August as hoped.

“This meeting was an opportunity for the secretary to be updated on the current thinking and analysis on the way ahead in Iraq from Admiral Fallon and General Petraeus,” said Pentagon press secretary Geoff Morrell.

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Rice, Gates to take missile shield talks to Russia

March 12, 2008
by Olivier Knox 

WASHINGTON (AFP) – US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Defense Secretary Robert Gates will visit Russia March 17-18, with Russo-US ties sorely strained by US missile defense plans, officials said Wednesday.
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice testifies during a House ... 
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice testifies during a House Appropriations Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. Rice and Defense Secretary Robert Gates will visit Russia March 17-18, with Russo-US ties sorely strained by US missile defense plans, officials said Wednesday.(AFP/GETTY IMAGES/Mark Wilson) 
With Iran, the Middle East, and Kosovo’s declaration of independence also on the agenda, Rice and Gates will meet with their counterparts and seek talks with President Vladimir Putin and president-elect Dmitry Medvedev, aides said.

Putin and US President George W. Bush agreed in a telephone call last week that the talks, a follow up to a similar round in October 2007, would be “a good idea,” said White House spokeswoman Dana Perino.

“The agenda will cover a broad range of bilateral strategic issues, including missile defense, post-START arrangements, cooperation on non-proliferation as well as counterterrorism,” she said.

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Esquire Magazine on Admiral William “Fox” Fallon

March 11, 2008

By Thomas P. M. Barnett
Esquire Magazine
March 11, 2008

As the White House talked up conflict with Iran, the head of U.S. Central Command, William “Fox” Fallon, talked it down. Now he has resigned.
If, in the dying light of the Bush administration, we go to war with Iran, it’ll all come down to one man. If we do not go to war with Iran, it’ll come down to the same man. He is that rarest of creatures in the Bush universe: the good cop on Iran, and a man of strategic brilliance. His name is William Fallon, although all of his friends call him “Fox,” which was his fighter-pilot call sign decades ago. Forty years into a military career that has seen this admiral rule over America’s two most important combatant commands, Pacific Command and now United States Central Command, it’s impossible to make this guy–as he likes to say–“nervous in the service.” Past American governments have used saber rattling as a useful tactic to get some bad actor on the world stage to fall in line. This government hasn’t mastered that kind of subtlety. When Dick Cheney has rattled his saber, it has generally meant that he intends to use it. And in spite of recent war spasms aimed at Iran from this sclerotic administration, Fallon is in no hurry to pick up any campaign medals for Iran. And therein lies the rub for the hard-liners led by Cheney. Army General David Petraeus, commanding America’s forces in Iraq, may say, “You cannot win in Iraq solely in Iraq,” but Fox Fallon is Petraeus’s boss, and he is the commander of United States Central Command, and Fallon doesn’t extend Petraeus’s logic to mean war against Iran.
Commander of the U.S. Central Command Navy Adm. William Fallon ... 
Commander of the U.S. Central Command Navy Adm. William Fallon testifies before the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington March 4, 2008.
REUTERS/Larry Downing 

So while Admiral Fallon’s boss, President George W. Bush, regularly trash-talks his way to World War III and his administration casually casts Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as this century’s Hitler (a crown it has awarded once before, to deadly effect), it’s left to Fallon–and apparently Fallon alone–to argue that, as he told Al Jazeera last fall: “This constant drumbeat of conflict . . . is not helpful and not useful. I expect that there will be no war, and that is what we ought to be working for. We ought to try to do our utmost to create different conditions.”

What America needs, Fallon says, is a “combination of strength and willingness to engage.”

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Admiral William Fallon Resigns as U.S. Mideast Military Chief

A Centcom Chief Who Spoke His Mind

Fallon’s Exit Provokes Concern on Path of Bush’s Iran Policy

Several Warriors Welcome Fallon’s Resignation

Gates hopes to continue Iraq drawdown

February 22, 2008
By LOLITA C. BALDOR, Associated Press Writer

ABOARD A MILITARY AIRCRAFT – Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Friday he hopes to be able to continue to reduce the number of U.S. troops in Iraq over the next 10 months, even as he and his military commanders lean toward a pause in troop cuts in July.

U.S. Deputy Secretary of State, John Negroponte, from left, ...
U.S. Deputy Secretary of State, John Negroponte, from left, Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs, Hon. Stephen Smith MP, U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Australian Minister for Defense, Hon. Joel Fitzgibbon MP, speak to reporters after a bi-lateral meeting at the Parliament House Saturday, Feb. 23, 2008, in Canberra, Australia. Australian leaders and their U.S.counterparts gathered in Canberra for Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s government’s first top level talks on security and strategic issues.
(AP Photo/Mark Wilson, Pool)

Gates, who is traveling to Australia for defense and diplomatic meetings, told reporters traveling with him that he thinks a “brief pause” to evaluate the security situation in Iraq “is probably necessary in order to be able to assess the pacing of any subsequent drawdowns.”

While Gates still would not say how long a brief interruption in troop cuts might be, his comments signaled that reductions could begin again before the end of the year.

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Gates says U.S. will share satellite destruction data with China

February 21, 2008
By ROBERT BURNS and LOLITA C. BALDOR, Associated Press

WASHINGTON – Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Thursday the United States is prepared to share with China some of the information it has about the U.S. shootdown of a spy satellite.

U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates makes a statement in ... 

His comments came hours after Beijing complained the missile strike Wednesday could cause harm to security in outer space and some countries.

“We provided a lot of information … before it took place,” Gates told reporters during a visit to Hawaii. But, the secretary also said that he is determined to be open about the U.S. operation and “we are prepared to share whatever appropriately we can.”

|Marine Gen. James Cartwright, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said there was up to a 90 percent chance the missile destroyed the spacecraft’s fuel tank which was filled with highly toxic hydrazine.

Debris from the obliterated satellite was being tracked over the Pacific and Atlantic oceans but appeared to be too small to cause damage on Earth, Marine Gen. James Cartwright, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, had said earlier Thursday.

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SecDef Gates, Admiral Mullen Testify Before SASC

February 6, 2008

By John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom 
Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen testified before the Sente Armed Services Committee today.  Senator Carl Levin (D-MI) is chairman of the committee and Sen. John Warner (R-VA) is the ranking member of the minority.

Several issues of interest were discussed.

Asked about the size of the defense budget both Secretary Gates and Admiral Mullen said that the budget needed to be 4% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP).  Admiral Mullen said that 4% of GDP should be an annual “floor” or lowest national investment in defense.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates stands by his chair at the witness ...
Defense Secretary Robert Gates stands by his chair at the witness table on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2008, prior to testifying before the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on the fiscal 2009 Defense Department budget.
(AP Photos/Susan Walsh) 

Secretary Gates said that there has been a recent shift in understanding by the government of Pakistan and that President Musharraf and his closest advisors now realize that the free reign apparently given to the Taliban and al-Qaeda in the tribal areas of Pakistan has now resulted in an “existential threat to the current government of Pakistan.”  Consequently, President Musharraf and his advisors are now waging a much more effective war against terror in the tribal areas.

US intelligence chief Mike McConnell told a Senate hearing yesterday, Tuesday, February 5, that the al Qaeda network in Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan has suffered setbacks, but still poses a persistent and growing danger from its safe haven in Pakistan’s tribal areas. He stressed that al Qaeda remains the pre-eminent threat against the United States” more than six years after 9/11.

Secretary Gates and Admiral Mullen supported and reiterated that view.

Joint Chiefs Chairman Adm. Michael Mullen testifies on Capitol ...
Joint Chiefs Chairman Adm. Michael Mullen testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, today, Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2008, before the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on the fiscal 2009 Defense Department budget.
(AP Photos/Susan Walsh)

On the issue of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), Senators expressed concern that all NATO nations had not fielded troops in Afghanistan.  Secretary Gates said that he feared the evolution of a two tiered NATO with one tier “fighting and dying” and a second tier not participating.  Secretary Gates said that he will continue to persuade NATO member nations toward a more active role in the war against terror.

Secretary Gates said he had become a “nag” to the Defense Ministers of NATO by pestering them about their contributions to the mission in Afghanistan.

In January some NATO defense ministers went public with their resentment for Mr. Gates.

“This is not the Robert Gates we have come to know,” Van Middlekoop told the Dutch broadcasting agency NOS last month, following criticism from Mr. Gates. “It’s also not the manner in which you treat each other when you have to cooperate with each other in the south of Afghanistan.”

Today Secretary Gates went out of his way to compliment the Dutch, Canadians, British, Australians and others for their work in Afghanistan.  But he said there were still several NATO member nations not taking the mission seriously enough. 

Secretary Gates said he would continue to press this issue this week end at a Defense Ministers’ meeting. 

Last month, Pentagon spokesman Geo Morrell said, “The secretary is not backing off his fundamental criticism that NATO needs to do a better job in training for counterinsurgency. But he is not — nor has he ever — criticized any particular nation for their service in Afghanistan.”

Secretary Gates also spoke eloquently about the AEGIS Ballistic Missile Defense system now deployed at sea, the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) and THAAD.

On combat troops in the war zone, Admiral Mullen said, “The well is deep, but it is not infinite.  We must get Army deployments down to 12 months as soon as possible. People are tired.”

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates makes a statement about the ...
Secretary Gates at a recent Pentagon briefing.

From the  Associated Press:

From Reuters: