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Gates, Senate Committee Discuss Nominations, Defense Issues

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, May 15, 2008 – Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates today urged the Senate Armed Services Committee to act quickly on several key military nominations, including Army Gen. David H. Petraeus’ appointment as chief of U.S. Central Command, Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell said today.

The committee will hold confirmation hearings May 22 for Petraeus, as well as for Army Lt. Gen. Raymond Odierno, who has been nominated for his fourth star and to take over Petraeus’ command at Multinational Force Iraq, Morrell said.

The committee was slated to meet today with Army Lt. Gen. Stanley McChrystal, nominated to direct the Joint Staff, and Navy Rear Adm. William McRaven, who has been named to succeed McChrystal at Joint Special Operations Command.

“The secretary believes the quick confirmation of all four men is necessary to maintain continuity and focus in the global war on terror,” Morrell said.

While on Capitol Hill today, Gates thanked the Senate committee for its work on the fiscal 2009 National Defense Authorization Act. “He is particularly pleased that it includes full funding for a missile defense site in Europe and increased funding for programs dedicated to the training and equipping of foreign forces,” Morrell said.

Gates also discussed the importance of the Military Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Act that enables the U.S. judicial system to exercise jurisdictional control over U.S. civilians on foreign soil. Gates discussed with the senators “the need to clarify jurisdiction over all contractors working for the U.S. government in Iraq, Afghanistan and other areas where our military operates,” Morrell said.

The secretary also talked with the senators about proposed changes to the Montgomery GI Bill.

“Secretary Gates reiterated his strong support for an enhanced GI Bill that allows troops to transfer their unused education benefits to family members while not undercutting retention in our all-volunteer force,” Morrell said.

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Robert M. Gates
Geoffrey S. Morrell

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