Sec. of Defense Robert Gates (L), who has been asked to continue as defense secretary, speaks as President-elect Barack Obama (C) and Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY), who has been selected for secretary of state, listen during a press conference at the Hilton Hotel December 01, 2008 in Chicago, Illinois. Other members of the National Security Team named by Obama at the press conference include Washington attorney Eric Holder as attorney general, Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano as his choice for homeland security. Retired Marine Gen. James L. Jones was selected for the position of national security adviser and Susan Rice as U.N. ambassador. (Getty Images)more pics »As the sole holdover from the Bush administration, Robert Gates is currently involved in a sometimes awkward transition phase.
OBAMA'S NATIONAL SECURITY TEAM
While Gates says he's Bush's man until noon on Jan. 20, he's had to attend meetings with both the Bush administration and Barack Obama's transition team. Gates supporters point out that his selection signals Obama's willingness to listen to experts in situations (such as the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq) where someone might have more knowledge and experience.
Gates detractors say that keeping him on just shows that Obama won't be making good on his earlier campaign promise to pull American troops out of Iraq within 16 months.
Gates, however, has proved moderate. He has spoken in favor of pulling out of Iraq (though at a slower pace), increasing troop forces in Afghanistan, and closing down the Guantanamo Bay prison where suspected terrorists are currently being held.
But if anyone had any illusions about Obama being a pacifist president, Gates has been breaking them every time someone puts a microphone in front of him. Gates visited Afghanistan Dec. 13th and indicated the president-elect would take a hard stance against America's enemies.
From the New York Times:
Mr. Gates’s four-day trip was an indication that Mr. Obama would be continuing much of the Bush administration’s latest policy in Iraq and Afghanistan, at least for now: reducing American troops slowly in Iraq but adding some 20,000 next year in Afghanistan.
Mr. Gates, who said he had had discussions with Mr. Obama about both wars, also signaled that Mr. Obama would take a forceful line against Iran.
“The president-elect and his team are under no illusions about Iran’s behavior and what Iran has been doing in the region and apparently is doing with some weapons programs,” Mr. Gates said Saturday at a regional security conference in Manama, Bahrain, where he stopped between visits to Afghanistan and Iraq. It isn't what Obama's anti-war constituents want to hear, and it's one more indication that Obama's cabinet will not be a band of "yes men."
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Defense Secretary Gates Holds Town Hall For U.S. Troops In Iraq