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Entries in Robert Gates (13)

Sunday
Jul102011

U.S. Slashes $800 Million in Military Aid to Pakistan

Pete Souza/The White House(WASHINGTON, D.C.) -- In a sign of tensions with Pakistan following the U.S. raid on former Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, White House chief of staff Bill Daley said Sunday that the U.S. will suspend some $800 million in aid to Pakistan's military.

Daley confirmed a report in The New York Times Sunday morning that "up to about $800 million in military aid and equipment, or over one-third of the more than $2 billion in annual American security assistance to Pakistan, could be affected" because of concerns over Pakistan's expulsion of American military trainers, as well as Pakistan's ineffectiveness in fighting militants.

Tensions have been on the rise since the successful U.S. mission against bin Laden in May, who was hiding in a suburb of Pakistan's capital, with Pakistani officials angry over the incursion into their territory without permission.

"It's a complicated relationship in a very difficult complicated part of the world," Daley said. "Obviously there is still a lot of pain that the political system in Pakistan is feeling by virtue of the raid that we did to get Osama bin Laden, something that the President felt strongly about, that we have no regrets over.

Frustration with Pakistan boiled over in Congress in June, after news that the half-dozen-or-so Pakistanis who were vital to the mission to get bin Laden had been detained by Pakistan's top spy agency.

"How long do we support governments that lie to us? When do we say, 'Enough is enough'?" Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., asked Secretary of Defense Robert Gates at a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing June 15. "They arrested people who helped us get him."

Gates prompted laughter with his response:

"First of all, I would say, based on 27 years in CIA and four-and-a-half years in this job, most governments lie to each other," he said. "That's the way business gets done."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Jun302011

Obama Presents Robert Gates with Presidential Medal of Freedom

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Defense Secretary Robert Gates knew he was going to receive a grand send-off Thursday from the military on his final day on the job, but he did not expect that President Obama would also honor him with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian award.

President Obama and Vice President Biden were among the hundreds that gathered on a parade field outside the Pentagon that has sweeping views of Washington’s monuments.

The president praised Gates as “a remarkable public servant” and said he could think “of no better way to express my appreciation to someone who I have come to admire and whom I consider a friend.”  
 
Gates seemed genuinely surprised to receive the honor and jokingly told the president that it was “a big surprise, but we should have known a couple of months ago. You're getting pretty good at this covert ops stuff.”

Gates called serving as Defense Secretary the “greatest honor and privilege of my life.”  He thanked President Bush for “giving me this historic opportunity" and for President Obama’s confidence in asking him to stay on in the post even though Gates was “someone he did not know at all.”

President Obama said that Gates had earned the right to retire after serving seven Presidents, but that when Gates agreed to his request to continue to as Defense Secretary in his administration it was because he is a “humble American patriot, a man of common sense and decency: quite simply one of our nation’s finest public servants.”

Obama praised Gates for his advice on national security matters and dedication to having the Defense Department serve “our troops in the field as well as they serve us. “

The President described Gates’ greatest legacy as “the lives you saved and the confidence you gave our men and woman in battle who knew that there was a Secretary of Defense who had their backs and who loved them and who fought for them and who did everything in his power to bring them home safe."

In the end, Gates acknowledged that the troops would always be on his mind.  “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.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Jun102011

Senators Levin and Corker Support Gates' Critique of NATO

US Senate(WASHINGTON) -- Senators on the Hill Friday echoed Secretary of Defense Robert Gates blunt farewell remarks to the NATO alliance where he criticized some in the alliance who have not devoted "necessary resources" to the campaign in Libya.

"There are some countries in NATO that haven't come through with commitments," Senate Armed Service Committee Chairman Carl Levin, D-Mich., said Friday, agreeing with Gates' comments when asked. "And those countries need to have the pressure put on them and to be reminded of those commitments and what NATO is all about.  I am glad Secretary Gates did that."

Levin made his comments after leaving a closed-door briefing for the Armed Services Committee -- of which only one other senator showed up for the meeting Friday on Libya.

"The key here is what Secretary Gates said which is that this be sustained," Levin added. "That this momentum continues and that's going to require NATO countries including those have not participated the way they said they would to come through with greater participation."

Levin said he would not single out any countries specifically, but said there are some countries that have "not come though as committed."

Senator Bob Corker, R-Tenn., a member of the Foreign Relations Committee, said in a statement that he also agrees with the Defense Secretary's remarks.

"I commend Secretary Gates for stating the view shared by many Americans: our NATO allies are not carrying their weight, forcing American service members and taxpayers to bear nearly all of the burden in NATO-led missions," Corker says. "This current arrangement where only five of the 28 nations pay their full commitment to support the alliance cannot continue."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Apr272011

CIA Director Leon Panetta to Replace Defense Secretary Gates

TIM SLOAN/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama will nominate CIA Director Leon Panetta to replace Secretary of Defense Robert Gates when he steps down, ABC News has learned.

Panetta has been widely suggested to succeed Gates, who has said he plans to retire sometime later this year.  The exact date of Gates' departure is not yet known.

The president will also nominate Gen. David Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, to fill Panetta's shoes as the CIA chief.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Apr082011

Sec. of Defense Robert Gates Planning to Step Down; Replacements Unknown

Gen. David Petraeus and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates upon Gates' arrival in Kabul, Afghanistan last month. MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- There will be a new top leadership team at the Pentagon later this year when Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Joint Chiefs Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen step down from their posts. Gates has said on multiple occasions that he intends to retire from his post later this year, though he has never said exactly when he would do so.

Just Thursday in Baghdad, he told a group of American soldiers that he was likely on his last trip to Iraq as Secretary of Defense. Having made quarterly visits to Iraq in recent years, he lent some credence to speculation that he could step down this summer following the start of the U.S. drawdown in Afghanistan scheduled for July.

Mullen's second two-year term as chairman of the Joint Chiefs will run out on Oct. 1. Mullen's successor would likely have to be named by the White House in early summer to allow enough time for the Senate confirmation process.

Leon Panetta's name surfaced in recent weeks as a potential Gates successor, but Washington was abuzz this week with the possibility that Gen. David Petraeus could replace Panetta if he does head to the Pentagon.

A U.S. official tells ABC News there are White House discussions about having Petraeus take over at the CIA. But that possibility would only be contingent on an opening at the CIA if Panetta were to move on.

But CIA spokesman George Little says about the Panetta talk, "He isn't seeking any other job and hasn't been asked by the President to take on a different role." He added, "Director Panetta is proud to lead the men and women of the CIA and is focused squarely on the agency's mission."

While Panetta has garnered all the recent attention, others seen as potential contenders to succeed Gates are Navy Secretary Ray Mabus, Defense Under Secretary for Policy Michele Flournoy and former Deputy Defense Secretary John Hamre. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton ended speculation she was in the running when she told reporters last month that she intended to remain at her post and then leave the administration after the 2012 election.

Conventional wisdom has Gen. James Cartwright, Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, as the leading candidate to succeed Mullen, who will have served four years as the President's top military advisor. His profile became higher after Bob Woodward, in his book Obama's Wars, labeled him as "Obama's favorite general."

But Gen. Petraeus has also been discussed as a potential successor to Mullen since it was first reported that he is scheduled to step down later this year as the top commander of NATO forces in Afghanistan. It's unclear when Petraeus would leave his post, but a Defense official says he has "pledged to see this through another fighting season if that was necessary."

But with few four-star openings available to Petraeus if he remains in the military, the possibility that he could take over at the CIA seemed an intriguing choice to many in Washington.

A Defense official says such talk is just "premature."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Mar042011

Military Panel Wants Women Allowed in Close-Combat Units

Jupiter Images/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- While thousands of women face the dangers of combat in Iraq and Afghanistan every day, serving as aviators, military police, intelligence, and civil affairs officers, they remain technically barred from infantry units that specialize in close combat with the enemy on the ground.

Critics say the policy creates an unlevel playing field that makes it difficult for women to pursue careers in front-line tactical operations and acquire experience essential for assuming some of the military's top jobs.

However, that policy could soon come to an end.

The Military Leadership Diversity Commission, a nonpartisan advisory panel created in 2009 to study advancement of women and minorities in the military, is expected to formally recommend as early as Monday that President Obama and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates end the restrictions.

"The Commission recommends that DoD and the Services take steps to open all career fields and units to all women who are qualified," commission members wrote in their draft report, due in final form before March 15.

The commission's report will go to Congress and the White House upon its release.  But, ultimately, it's up to Gates to decide on a change of policy, because no law exists to exclude women from joining infantry units.

The panel found that allowing women to serve formally in close-combat units would have minimal impact on unit readiness and mission capability, morale, or cohesion, and restore a more equitable environment for all service members based on their qualifications.

Advocates for women in the military have hailed the report as a step toward recognition of the contributions women have already made on the front lines.

There are more than 213,000 women on active duty in the U.S. military, comprising 14 percent of the overall force and serving in each of the service branches, according to Women in Military Service for America.  But disproportionately small numbers are flag officers or generals.

Women are least represented in the Marine Corps, which is 93 percent male.  Only 3 percent of the Marines' flag officers and generals are women.

Opponents of change say close-combat conditions are no place for women, who don't have the physical strength to match their male counterparts and whose presence would bring sexual tension to the ranks and provide tempting targets to enemies intent on capturing them.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Feb162011

Gates Warns Against Short-Sighted Pentagon Spending Cuts

Photo Courtesy - Scott J. Ferrell/Congressional Quarterly/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- It's the strongest warning yet from top Pentagon officials against deep spending cuts in the military budget, which Defense Secretary Robert Gates described as short-sighted. "We still live in a very dangerous and unstable world. Our military must remain strong and agile enough to face a range of threats."

Gates told the House Armed Services Committee that the Pentagon has already cancelled $330 billion in programs, such as the marine amphibious fighting vehicle and closed down an entire command.

Gates says the Pentagon is asking for $553 billion for the budget year starting October 1, plus $118 billion in war costs. The Obama 2012 budget calls for cutting the size of the army and marine corps beginning in 2015. Gates says this could be done with minimal risk. "Drastic reductions in the size and strength of the U.S. military make armed conflict all the more likely, with an unacceptably high cost in American blood and treasure."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Feb142011

Gates: 'No Idea' on Size of US Troop Drawdown in Afghanistan

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Defense Secretary Gates called it a “fairly dramatic reduction in the overseas contingency operations budget," as war funding drops to $117.8 billion in 2012 from $160 billion this year.  But it’s all because of the U.S. drawdown in Iraq that will be completed by January 1, 2012 which makes next year’s war funding all about Afghanistan.  

The drawdown of the 98,000 U.S. troops currently in Afghanistan is slated to begin in July of this year, but Gates admitted Monday “we have no idea what the size of the drawdowns will be" because the pace of troop reductions will all depend on security conditions on the ground.
 
As such, Gates said it make more sense to continue to conservatively budget the war next year at the 98,000 U.S. troop level and see what happens as the drawdown progresses.
 
According to Gates, “It makes more budget sense to do this conservatively and budget on a straight line basis from FY 2011 and depending on the size of the drawdown, that maybe money we just won’t spend. “
 
However, Gates made it clear that while it made good budget sense to plan for maintaining a 98,000 troop level, that’s “not to say we will have 98,000 at the end of FY 2012, in fact that’s a lead pipe cinch we won’t.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio 

Thursday
Dec232010

Gates Wants to be 'Perfectly Clear': DADT Still in Effect

Photo Courtesy -- Getty Images(WASHINGTON) – Defense Secretary Robert Gates reacted Thursday to the President’s repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.

In a statement, Gates reminded servicemen and women that the law will remain in effect while a decision is made on how to implement the new policy.

“It remains the policy of the Department of Defense not to ask Service members or applicants about their sexual orientation, to treat all members with dignity and respect, and to ensure maintenance of good order and discipline,” said Gates. “Service members who alter their personal conduct during this period may face adverse consequences.”
 
Gates said the repeal will go into effect only after a plan is put in place to repeal DADT, “in a manner consistent with the standards of military readiness, military effectiveness, unit cohesion, and recruiting and retention of the Armed Forces.”

Gates said he will continue to support the recommendations of the Comprehensive Review Working Group toward a roadmap for implementation.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Dec232010

mtvU: Defense Secretary Robert Gates Is a Rock Star

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(NEW YORK) -- What's wrong with this picture?

Time magazine has selected Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg as its Man of the Year and music channel mtvU has named Defense Secretary Robert Gates as its Man of the Year.

Huh?

Top-selling artists like Eminem, Justin Bieber or Bruno Mars instantly come to mind as the leading candidates for a music channel's man of the year, but in an inspired choice, mtvU has selected Gates as the television network's honoree.

In a press release announcing the selection, the MTV network, geared towards college students, says it chose Gates for being "a role model for public service" who has "firmly established himself as a voice of reason and bi-partisanship."

The network said Gates "tackled big issues -- from fiscal responsibility to gender bias and most recently, 'don't ask, don't tell,' making bold, yet reasoned choices, leaving politics aside." Stephen Friedman, general manager of MTV said "mtvU is proud to honor Secretary Gates because he stood up for what was right, and made historic changes to the system by focusing on the issues at hand rather than partisan rhetoric."

Pentagon spokesman Col. Dave Lapan said mtvU's selection "had been communicated" to Gates Wednesday when news came of his selection, but he said he was unaware of any reaction to the news.

Who was the network's selection for mtvU's Woman of the Year? Rapper Nicki Minaj, who became the first female rapper to top the charts since 2003 and has served as a role model in speaking out against bullying and calling for an end to homophobia in hip hop.

According to MTV spokesman Kurt Patat, mtvU staffers compiled a short list of individuals from pop culture, politics and the world of music who "actually pushed for some kind of change." He said the decision to select Gates and Minaj was "pretty easy" given their accomplishments this year. "This is what the college audience is looking at and these are the two people we think stick out who you might want to take to dinner and really talk to," Panat said.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio







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