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

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Before burial at overflowing cemeteries, unidentified dead being swapped for DNA, in case some day relatives come to learn their fate

    Russian Opposition Leader Sues Putin for Conflict of Interest

    Alexei Navalny tells VOA in exclusive interview why transfer of $2 billion from country’s wealth fund to company with ties to President Putin’s son-in-law triggered lawsuit

    How Diversity Has Changed America

    Over the past four decades, the level of diversity in the United States has increased most in these four states

    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.
    As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Filli
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 11, 2016 8:01 PM
    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video To Fight Zika, Scientists Target Mosquitoes

    Mosquitoes strike again. The Zika virus outbreak is just the latest headline-grabbing epidemic carried by these biting pests, but researchers are fighting back with new ways to control them. VOA's Steve Baragona takes a look.
    Video

    Video Mosul Refugees Talk About Life Under IS

    A top U.S. intelligence official told Congress this week that a planned Iraqi-led operation to re-take the city of Mosul from Islamic State militants is unlikely to take place this year. IS took over the city in June 2014, and for the past year and a half, Mosul residents have been held captive under its rule. VOA's Zana Omar talked to some families who managed to escape. Bronwyn Benito narrates his report.
    Video

    Video Scientists Make Progress Toward Better Diabetes Treatment, Cure

    Scientists at two of the top U.S. universities say they have made significant advances in their quest to find a more efficient treatment for diabetes and eventually a cure. According to the International Diabetes Federation, the disease affects more than 370 million people worldwide. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video NATO to Target Migrant Smugglers

    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video Russia's Catholics, Orthodox Hopeful on Historic Pope-Patriarch Meeting

    Russia's Catholic minority has welcomed an historic first meeting Friday in Cuba between the Pope and the Patriarch of Russia's dominant Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church split with Rome in 1054 and analysts say politics, both church and state, have been driving the relationship in the centuries since. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Used Books Get a New Life on the Streets of Lagos

    Used booksellers are importing books from abroad and selling them on the streets of Africa's largest city. What‘s popular with readers may surprise you. Chris Stein reports from Lagos.
    Video

    Video After NH Primaries All Eyes on South Carolina

    After Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire, US presidential candidates swiftly turned to the next election coming up in South Carolina. The so-called “first-in-the-South” poll may help further narrow down the field of candidates. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video US Co-ed Selective Service Plan Stirs Controversy

    Young women may soon be required to register with the U.S. Selective Service System, the U.S. government agency charged with implementing a draft in a national emergency. Top Army and Marine Corps commanders told the Senate Armed Services Committee recently that women should register, and a bill has been introduced in Congress requiring eligible women to sign up for the military draft. The issue is stirring some controversy, as VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports from New York.
    Video

    Video Lessons Learned From Ebola Might Help Fight Zika

    Now that the Ebola epidemic has ended in West Africa, Zika has the world's focus. And, as Carol Pearson reports, health experts and governments are applying some of the lessons learned during the Ebola crisis in Africa to fight the Zika virus in Latin America and the Caribbean.
    Video

    Video Smartphone Helps Grow Vegetables

    One day, you may be using your smartphone to grow your vegetables. A Taipei-based company has developed a farm cube — a small, enclosed ecosystem designed to grow plants indoors. The environment inside is automatically adjusted by the cube, but it can also be controlled through an app. VOA's Deborah Block has more on the gardening system.
    Video

    Video Illinois Voters Have Mixed Emotions on Obama’s Return to Springfield

    On the ninth anniversary of the launch of his quest for national office, President Barack Obama returned to Springfield, Illinois, to speak to the Illinois General Assembly, where he once served as state senator. His visit was met with mixed emotions by those with a front-row seat on his journey to the White House. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
    Video

    Video Exhibit Turns da Vinci’s Drawings Into Real Objects

    In addition to being a successful artist, Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci designed many practical machines, some of which are still in use today, although in different forms. But a number of his projects were never realized — until today. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Heated Immigration Debate Limits Britain’s Refugee Response

    Compared to many other European states, Britain has agreed to accept a relatively small number of Syrian refugees. Just over a thousand have arrived so far -- and some are being resettled in remote corners of the country. Henry Ridgwell reports on why Britain’s response has lagged behind its neighbors.
    Video

    Video Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growth

    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.