News / USA

Former Defense Secretary to Lead Boy Scouts

Former Defense Secretary to Lead Boy Scoutsi
X
November 01, 2013 8:47 PM
He has served under eight U.S. presidents, including as chief of the Central Intelligence Agency and at the Pentagon. Now, former Defense Secretary Robert Gates has agreed to take on a new challenge. Instead of marshalling troops, though, he will be making sure more than two-and-a-half million U.S. boys are prepared to face life.
— He has served under eight U.S. presidents, including as chief of the Central Intelligence Agency and at the Pentagon. Now, former Defense Secretary Robert Gates has agreed to take on a new challenge. Instead of marshalling troops, though, he will be making sure more than two-and-a-half million U.S. boys are prepared to face life.

There was plenty of fanfare when Gates stepped down as Secretary of Defense in June 2011, marking what seemed to be the end of a long public career.

Now, Gates will be stepping back onto the public stage, after agreeing to a two-year term as voluntary president of the Boy Scouts of America. Pending final approval, he is to start next May.

In a statement, Gates, a former scout himself, is quoted as saying, “There is no finer program for preparing American boys for citizenship and leadership.”

But just as when he took the helm at the Defense Department, in the midst of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Gates is coming to an organization facing major challenges.

The Boy Scouts have been hit with multiple lawsuits - including one alleging the organization, despite complaints, allowed suspected pedophiles to work with and abuse boys in the 1970s and 80s.

"We know that in Idaho alone, there were 15 different pedophiles, based on these documents," said Andrew Chasan, who represents the plaintiffs.

But perhaps no issue looms larger than the decision by the Boy Scouts this past May to allow openly gay scouts for the first time.

Outgoing Boy Scouts President Wayne Perry, said, “It's a very difficult decision for a lot of people. But we're moving forward together.”

Not everyone feels that way. Thousands of people rallied in opposition, some severing ties, even mailing back scout badges they had earned decades earlier.

"What they've done is they've slapped all of us in the face that have ever been involved in scouting," said Bill Bright, a former Boy Scout.

The issue though, is not at all unfamiliar to Gates, who oversaw the end of the U.S. military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy on gays.

“You're supposed to go on treating everybody like you're supposed to be treating everybody now - with dignity, respect and discipline.”

But now, instead of facing troops, he’ll be facing more than 2.5 million Boy Scouts, ages seven to 21. And he will be charged with helping them live up to the organization’s famous motto - “be prepared.”

Jeff Seldin

Jeff works out of VOA’s Washington headquarters covering a wide variety of subjects, from the nature of the growing terror threat in Northern Africa to China’s crackdown on Tibet and the struggle over immigration reform in the United States. You can follow Jeff on Twitter at @jseldin or on Google Plus.

You May Like

China Investigates Former Powerful Security Chief

Former security chief and member of Politburo Standing Committee, Zhou Yongkang, under investigation for suspected 'serious disciplinary violation' More

India, US Look to Reset Ties During Kerry Visit

This week's talks will be first high level interaction between two countries since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took charge More

Video Young African Leadership Program Renamed to Honor Mandela

YALI program, launched by President Obama in 2010, aims to build skills in business, entrepreneurship, public management and civic leadership More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid