Robert Michael Gates


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(b. Wichita, Kansas, 25 Sept. 1943)

US; Secretary of Defense 2006–  Gates studied European history at William and Mary College in Williamsburg, Virginia, graduating in 1965, and was recruited by the CIA shortly afterwards. Being conscripted, he was obliged to serve in the US Air Force for two years, but he then rejoined the CIA. He received a PhD in Russian and Soviet history from Georgetown University, Washington, in 1974, the year he joined the staff of the National Security Council, but he rejoined the CIA in 1979, becoming its deputy director in 1982. Controversy over the Iran-Contra affair led to the withdrawal of his nomination as CIA Director in 1987. He served as President George H. Bush's deputy National Security Adviser from 1989 to 1991, before being successfully nominated as Director of the CIA. He retired from the CIA in 1993, following Bush's departure from the White House. Gates returned to academic life and became President of Texas Agricultural and Mechanical (A&M) University in 2002.

Popular discontent concerning the progress of the Iraq war seemed to be the main factor in the poor performance of the Republican Party in the 2006 mid-term elections. Secretary of State Donald Rumsfeld was seen as the main architect of President George W. Bush's Iraq policy and, following Rumsfeld's retirement in 2006, Bush nominated Gates for the job. Gates was not enthusiastic about taking it on, telling the confirmation hearing ‘I did not want this job. I'm doing it because I love my country.’ However, his time in the job has seen violence in Iraq diminish and, when President Obama took office in January 2009, he took the step of asking Gates to stay in post, to oversee the withdrawal of troops.

Subjects: Warfare and Defence.

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