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Gates to Take Office Dec. 18

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Dec. 7, 2006 – Robert M. Gates will take over as defense secretary Dec. 18, and the department will wish current Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld farewell at a Pentagon ceremony Dec. 15, a Defense Department spokesman announced today.

Gates and Rumsfeld have met a couple of times to handle transition issues and will meet again in the coming week, spokesman Bryan Whitman told reporters this morning.

Whitman also spoke about the recommendations of the Iraq Study Group. He said DoD officials are looking closely at the group’s report. “We take very seriously the recommendations that they have made (and) the thoughtfulness behind this effort,” Whitman said. “We certainly want to give it the kind of review and analysis it deserves.”

He said the coalition effort to embed trainers with Iraqi units is working well. “Clearly, we have found that embedding trainers in Iraqi units is something that has a tremendous amount of value in terms of helping them develop,” he said. “It is one of those areas where, for some time now, we have been reinforcing success by adding to the number of people embedded in those units.”

Some 5,000 U.S. trainers are assigned to 400 transition teams in Iraq. These teams work down to battalion level. Local U.S. commanders augment these teams with troops from their units, Pentagon officials said. In addition, squads of Iraqis work inside U.S. platoons in some units.

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