Retirement is on Defense secretary's radar

Robert Gates plans to step down in 2011

Defense Secretary Robert Gates says he may retire next year after five years at the helm of the Pentagon.

“I think sometime in 2011 sounds pretty good to me,” Gates said in Aug. 16 comments he made to Foreign Policy magazine. “It would be a mistake to wait until January 2012,” when such a move would force President Barack Obama to choose a new defense secretary during a bid for re-election. “This is not the kind of job you want to fill in the spring of an election year,” Gates added.

Gates, 66, is a former director of the Central Intelligence Agency and the only Defense secretary to be kept onboard by a newly elected president. He has served under eight presidents, and was chosen by former president George W. Bush in 2006 to succeed Donald Rumsfeld as Defense secretary.

Gates’ tenure as the 22nd Defense secretary has most recently been distinguished by his calls to pull out of Afghanistan by July 2011 and his lifting of the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy on homosexuality. He has also taken on major plans to shave defense spending by $100 billion over the next three years.

He leaves behind at least three major hurdles for his successor: the unfinished withdrawal of troops from Southwest Asia, a major overhaul of the U.S. health care system that includes medical care for servicemembers and their families, and the massive Pentagon financial restructuring.


Related stories

Gates details planned cuts in defense IT and elsewhere

Gates aims to slash budget by $100B to pay for war


Gates’ press secretary, Geoff Morrell, interjected that no one should be holding their breath waiting for Gates to step down.

“This is a guy who just bit off a huge bite,” Morrell said. “This is a guy musing about when it makes sense for him to retire. This is not a guy announcing his retirement.”

Despite the comments to Foreign Policy, Gates himself also has avoided concrete plans so far. “As far as I’m concerned, all I will say is that I’m going to be here longer than either I or others thought,” he said at an Aug. 9 press conference – weeks after his Foreign Policy interview.

 

About the Author

Amber Corrin is a former staff writer for FCW and Defense Systems.

Featured

  • Cybersecurity

    DHS floats 'collective defense' model for cybersecurity

    Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen wants her department to have a more direct role in defending the private sector and critical infrastructure entities from cyberthreats.

  • Defense
    Defense Secretary James Mattis testifies at an April 12 hearing of the House Armed Services Committee.

    Mattis: Cloud deal not tailored for Amazon

    On Capitol Hill, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis sought to quell "rumors" that the Pentagon's planned single-award cloud acquisition was designed with Amazon Web Services in mind.

  • Census
    shutterstock image

    2020 Census to include citizenship question

    The Department of Commerce is breaking with recent practice and restoring a question about respondent citizenship last used in 1950, despite being urged not to by former Census directors and outside experts.

Stay Connected

FCW Update

Sign up for our newsletter.

I agree to this site's Privacy Policy.