Defense Secretary Nominee Boasts Strong Intelligence Background
By John D. Banusiewicz
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Nov. 8, 2006 President Bush’s nominee to succeed Donald H. Rumsfeld as secretary of defense brings more than a quarter century of experience in the Central Intelligence Agency and the National Security Council to the table.
Bush announced today that he and Rumsfeld agreed the timing is right for a change in leadership at the Pentagon.
When he was sworn in as director of central intelligence under President George H.W. Bush in November 1991, Gates, now president of Texas A&M University, was the first career CIA officer to rise from an entry-level position to the director’s post. He served four presidents during his 26-year career, which included nine years on the National Security Council.
Gates, 63, is a native of Wichita, Kan. After graduating from the College of William and Mary in 1965, he earned a bachelor’s degree in history from Indiana University in 1966 and a PhD. in Russian and Soviet history from Georgetown University in 1974.
He is a member of the bipartisan Iraq Study Group, also known as the Baker-Hamilton Commission, which was formed in March to study the war in Iraq and make policy recommendations to Congress and the executive branch. The commission’s report is expected to be published next month.
Gates’s nomination will require Senate confirmation.
“If confirmed by the Senate, Bob will bring more than 25 years of national security experience and a stellar reputation as an effective leader with sound judgment," Bush said at a White House news conference in which he announced his intention to nominate Gates for the Pentagon’s top post.
“During his service at the CIA and at the National Security Council Bob Gates gained firsthand knowledge that will help him meet the challenges and opportunities that our country faces during the next two years,” Bush said. “He is a steady, solid leader who can help make the necessary adjustments in our approach to meet our current challenges.”
Bush said he had talked with Gates at the president’s Crawford, Texas, ranch on Sunday. “I found him to be of like mind,” the president said. “He understands we're in a global war against these terrorists. He understands that defeat is not an option in Iraq.”
(American Forces Press Service correspondent Jim Garamone contributed to this report.)