News / USA

    Gates Honored on Final Day as Defense Chief

    Outgoing Defense Secretary Robert Gates and President Barack Obama salute during a farewell ceremony for Gates at the Pentagon, June 30, 2011.
    Outgoing Defense Secretary Robert Gates and President Barack Obama salute during a farewell ceremony for Gates at the Pentagon, June 30, 2011.

    Multimedia

    U.S. President Barack Obama on Thursday awarded retiring Defense Secretary Robert Gates the Presidential Medal of Freedom. The award came during a military tribute to Gates on his final day in office.


    It was an elaborate farewell ceremony outside the Pentagon with President Barack Obama joining Defense Secretary Robert Gates at the end of his more than four years in office.

    Gates is the only defense secretary in U.S. history to be asked to remain in office by a newly-elected president.  He was first sworn in under Mr. Obama’s predecessor, George W. Bush, at a crucial point during the Iraq war.

    Gates oversaw a surge of American troops in Iraq and later in Afghanistan that analysts say helped turn around both military campaigns.

    At Thursday's ceremony, President Obama called Gates a "humble American patriot, a man of common sense and decency," and one of the nation’s "finest public servants."

    “Bob, today you are not only one of the longest serving secretaries of defense in American history, but it is also clear that you have been one of the best,” he said.

    As defense secretary, Gates made numerous trips to Afghanistan and Iraq, always making a point to visit the American men and women in uniform who put their lives on the line.

    President Obama said Gates made it his mission to ensure the Defense Department serves troops in the field as well as they serve the nation.

    “And today, we see the lifesaving difference he made - in the mine resistant vehicles, in the unmanned aircraft, the shorter medevac [medical evacuation] times in Afghanistan, in our determination to give our wounded warriors the world class care they deserve,” Obama said.

    Mr. Obama then awarded Gates the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor.  

    In his address, Gates said he is proud of the cooperation the Pentagon has had with other federal agencies, especially those dealing with intelligence, development and diplomacy.

    “The blows struck against al-Qaida, culminating in the bin Laden raid, exemplify the remarkable transformation of how we must fuse intelligence and military operations in the 21st century,” Gates said.

    Gates said serving as defense secretary has been the greatest honor and privilege of his life.  In a farewell message to the men and women of the military and their families, he thanked the service members, saying that their dedication and courage have kept America safe.

    “I'll just say here that I will think of these young warriors - the ones who fought, the ones who keep on fighting, the ones who never made it back - 'till the end of my days,” Gates said.

    The 67-year-old Gates will be succeeded by another veteran of Washington public service, Leon Panetta, who has been leading the CIA.

    Panetta says his first task at the Pentagon will be to ensure the United States prevails in the conflicts it is engaged in, including Iraq and Afghanistan.

    You May Like

    Hope Remains for Rio Olympic Games, Despite Woes

    Facing a host of problems, Rio prepares for holding the games but experts say some risks, like Zika, may not be as grave as initially thought

    IS Use of Social Media to Recruit, Radicalize Still a Top Threat to US

    Despite military gains against IS in Iraq and Syria, their internet propaganda still commands an audience; US officials see 'the most complex challenge that the federal government and industry face'

    ‘Time Is Now’ to Save Africa’s Animals From Poachers, Activist Says

    During Zimbabwe visit, African Wildlife Foundation President Kaddu Sebunya says poaching hurts Africa as slave trade once did

    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.
    Ivorian Chocolate Makers Promote Locally-made Chocolatei
    X
    July 29, 2016 4:02 PM
    Ivory Coast is the world's top producer of cocoa but hardly any of it is processed into chocolate there. Instead, the cocoa is sent abroad to chocolate makers in Europe and elsewhere. This is a general problem throughout Africa – massive exports of raw materials but few finished goods. As Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, several Ivorian entrepreneurs are working to change that formula - 100 percent Ivorian chocolate bar at a time.
    Video

    Video Ivorian Chocolate Makers Promote Locally-made Chocolate

    Ivory Coast is the world's top producer of cocoa but hardly any of it is processed into chocolate there. Instead, the cocoa is sent abroad to chocolate makers in Europe and elsewhere. This is a general problem throughout Africa – massive exports of raw materials but few finished goods. As Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, several Ivorian entrepreneurs are working to change that formula - 100 percent Ivorian chocolate bar at a time.
    Video

    Video Tesla Opens Battery-Producing Gigafactory

    Two years after starting to produce electric cars, U.S. car maker Tesla Motors has opened the first part of its huge battery manufacturing plant, which will eventually cover more than a square kilometer. Situated close to Reno, Nevada, the so-called Gigafactory will eventually produce more lithium-ion batteries than were made worldwide in 2013. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Polio-affected Afghan Student Fulfilling Her Dreams in America

    Afghanistan is one of only two countries in the world where children still get infected by polio. The other is Pakistan. Mahbooba Akhtarzada who is from Afghanistan, was disabled by polio, but has managed to overcome the obstacles caused by this crippling disease. VOA's Zheela Nasari caught up with Akhtarzada and brings us this report narrated by Bronwyn Benito.
    Video

    Video Hillary Clinton Promises to Build a 'Better Tomorrow'

    Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton urged voters Thursday not to give in to the politics of fear. She vowed to unite the country and move it forward if elected in November. Clinton formally accepted the Democratic Party's nomination at its national convention in Philadelphia. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more.
    Video

    Video Trump Tones Down Praise for Russia

    Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is toning down his compliments for Russia and Vladimir Putin as such rhetoric got him in trouble recently. After calling on Russia to find 30.000 missing emails from rival Hillary Clinton, Trump told reporters he doesn't know Putin and never called him a great leader, just one who's better than President Barack Obama. Putin has welcomed Trump's overtures, but, as Zlatica Hoke reports, ordinary Russians say they are not putting much faith in Trump.
    Video

    Video Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Bus

    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Silicon Valley: More Than A Place, It's a Culture

    Silicon Valley is a technology powerhouse and a place that companies such as Google, Facebook and Apple call home. It is a region in northern California that stretches from San Francisco to San Jose. But, more than that, it's known for its startup culture. VOA's Elizabeth Lee went inside one company to find out what it's like to work in a startup.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora