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Senate Armed Services Committee Approves Gates

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Dec. 5, 2006 – The Senate Armed Services Committee unanimously recommended Robert M. Gates to be the next U.S. defense secretary.

Virginia Sen. John Warner, committee chairman, expressed confidence in Gates' ability to do the job.

"He's going to be a very strong adviser to the president of the United States and to the Congress, and in his heart (he has) only the best interests of this country and the men and women of the armed forces and their families," Warner said.

Gates faced five hours of questioning today before the Armed Services Committee. The war in Iraq dominated the questions.

Gates told committee members during his confirmation hearing that if he’s confirmed to the top Pentagon post, his highest calling will be to ensure success in Iraq and look out for the men and women in uniform.

He said the “most humbling” part of his job, if confirmed, will be making decisions that will have life-and-death consequences. “Our country is at war, and if confirmed, I will be charged with leading the men and women who are fighting it,” he said.

“The patriots who have volunteered to serve in our armed services today have no equal in the world,” he said. “I offer this committee my solemn commitment to keep the welfare of our forces uppermost in my mind.”

If confirmed, Gates will succeed Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld. Rumsfeld has served in office since Jan. 20, 2001.

The nomination process now moves to the full Senate for the actual confirmation vote. The vote will happen tomorrow morning.

Gates served as director of central intelligence from 1991 to 1993. He is currently serving as the president of Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas.

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Robert M. Gates

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