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

Turkey's Controversial Reform Bill Giving Investors Jitters

Homeland security reform bill will give police new powers in search, seizure, detention and arrests, while restricting the rights of suspects, their attorneys More

Audio Slideshow In Kenyan Prison, Good Grades Are Path to Freedom

Some inmates who get high marks could see their sentences commuted to non-custodial status More

'Rumble in the Jungle' Turns 40

'The Champ' knocked Foreman out to regain crown he had lost 7 years earlier when US government accused him of draft-dodging and boxing officials revoked his license 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.
Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisiai
X
Henry Ridgwell
October 30, 2014 11:39 PM
Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisia

Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Africa Tells its Story Through Fashion

In Africa, Fashion Week is a riot of colors, shapes, patterns and fabrics - against the backdrop of its ongoing struggle between nature and its fast-growing urban edge. How do these ideas translate into needle and thread? VOA’s Anita Powell visited this year’s Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Africa in Johannesburg to find out.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.

All About America

AppleAndroid