News / USA

US Defense Secretary to Step Down in 2011

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates says he will likely leave his post next year, ending what would be a very eventful four-year tenure.  

Secretary Gates told Foreign Policy magazine one of the most difficult things in public life is knowing when to leave office, and he believes the right time for him will be sometime next year, perhaps as early as January.  

Gates says by then the Obama administration will have completed its first review of the president's new Afghanistan strategy, and his cost-cutting and accountability initiatives will be well underway.  He also says if he stays until 2012, it may be difficult for the president to find a high-quality successor with just one more year left in his term and an ongoing election campaign.

The secretary, who turns 67 next month, also told the magazine that managing two wars has been "very wearing."  He said, "there's a certain point at which you just run out of energy."

Still, Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman says Gates will not be weakened by his announcement, as he serves out what are now expected to be his final months in office.

"I would just caution you, he is not about to walk out the door," he said. "Look at what he has said about that; he hopes [to retire] in 2011."

Whitman would not say whether Gates has discussed his plans with President Obama.  But officials said last year that the two men had agreed Gates would serve at least until the end of this year and would discuss his future at that time.

Gates was first appointed defense secretary by then-President George W. Bush in late 2006.  Gates replaced Donald Rumsfeld at a time when the war in Iraq was spiraling out of control and voters had punished the president's Republican Party in congressional elections.  Gates is widely credited with helping manage the turnaround in Iraq, which is enabling the United States to end its combat mission there this month and to plan for the withdrawal of all its troops by the end of next year.  He is also a key architect of President Obama's new Afghanistan strategy, which calls for the beginning of a gradual U.S. withdrawal from that country in July of next year.

Gates, who has described himself as a Republican, became the only U.S. defense secretary ever asked to stay on from one administration to the next when then-President-elect Obama, a Democrat, asked him to remain in office after the 2008 election.  Gates agreed and has frequently spoken of his commitment to the troops fighting two very difficult wars.

If he leaves next year, Gates will have become the fifth longest-serving U.S. defense secretary in history.

You May Like

Lebanese Media Unite to Support Palestinians in Gaza

Joint newscast billed as Arab world’s first unified news bulletin in support of Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip More

Photogallery Australian PM Alleges ‘Coverup’ at MH17 Crash Site

Meanwhile, Russia's ambassador to Malaysia denies plane's black boxes were opened before they were handed over to Malaysian officials More

Despite Advances in AIDS Treatment, Stigma Lingers

Leading immunologist tells VOA that stigma is often what prevents those infected with disease from seeking treatment 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.
IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Formi
X
July 22, 2014 10:26 AM
Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Chicago’s Argonne Lab Developing Battery of the Future

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science awarded a $120 million grant to a new technology center focused on battery development - headquartered at Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago, Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there scientists are making the next technological breakthroughs in energy storage.
Video

Video In NW Pakistan, Army Offensive Causes Massive Number of Displaced

Pakistan’s army offensive in North Waziristan has resulted in the large-scale displacement of the local population. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from northwest Pakistan where authorities say around 80 percent of the estimated 1 million internally displaced persons [IDPs] have settled in Bannu district, while much of the remaining 20 percent are scattered in nearby cities.
Video

Video Kurdish Peshmerga Force Secures Kirkuk, Its Oil

The Kurdistan regional government has sent its Peshmerga troops into the adjacent province of Kirkuk to drive out insurgents, and to secure the area's rich oil fields. By doing this, the regional government has added a fourth province to the three it officially controls. The oil also provides revenue that could make an independent Kurdistan economically strong. VOA’s Jeffrey Young went out with the Peshmerga and filed this report.
Video

Video Malaysia Reeling: Second Air Disaster in Four Months

Malaysia is reeling from the second air disaster in four months involving the country’s flag carrier. Flight 340 vanished in March and despite an extensive search, no debris has been found. And on Thursday, Flight 17, likely hit by a surface-to-air missile, came apart over eastern Ukraine. The two incidents together have left more than 500 people dead. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Kuala Lumpur.

AppleAndroid