US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates boards a USAF C-17 cargo aircraft on September 15, 2008, at Incirlik Air Force Base in Turkey. Gates made a surprise visit to Baghdad on September 15, 2008, saying the new US commander in Iraq will inherit a 'mission in transition' from General David Petraeus as the US force shrinks in size and turns over more of the country to Iraqis. AFP PHOTO / PAUL J. RICHARDS
Credit: PAUL J. RICHARDS
Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates listens as President Barack Obama speaks to the press after a meeting in the Cabinet Room of the White House June 22, 2010 in Washington DC. President Obama spoke about the war on terrorism, the Gulf of Mexico Oil spill and Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal's comments about the administration in a Rolling Stone.
United States President Barack Obama (R) presents Secretary of Defense Robert Gates with the Presidential Medal of Freedom during his Armed Services Farewell Tribute on the River Parade Field at the Pentagon June 30, 2011 in Arlington, Virginia. Appointed by former President George W. Bush in 2006, Gates is credited with many landmark decisions and actions, including the turning around of the war in Iraq by directing the troop surge, the repeal of the don't ask, don't tell policy, the handling of the Walter Reed Army Medical Center neglect scandal and a huge shift toward fiscal restraint in military spending. Gates will be succeeded as head of the Pentagon by CIA Director Leon Panetta.
Credit: Chip Somodevilla
Vice President Joe Biden (L) and U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates attend the U.S. Forces-Iraq change of command ceremony September 1, 2010 in Baghdad, Iraq. The military ceremony signaled a formal end to combat operations in Iraq after seven years of war that claimed more than 4,400 American lives.
US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates (C) inspects troops as he tours Camp Blackhorse training grounds on March 10, 2010 in Kabul, Afghanistan. During his tour of Afghanistan, US Defence Secretary Gates said he was convinced the war effort was on course.
President Barack Obama (L) and Defense Secretary Robert Gates listen to the National Anthem during an event marking the anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks at the Pentagon Memorial September 11, 2010 in Arlington, Virginia. President Obama will deliver remarks, lay a wreath and meet with families of the victims during the event on the ninth anniversary of the tragedy.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates arrives to testify on the defense budget before a Senate Armed Services Committee at the Dirksen Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill February 17, 2011 in Washington, DC, . During budget testimony yesterday, Gates warned of serious disruptions if the military budget was delayed.