About the legacy of SecDef Gates (and his rumored departure)

Summary:   This post by GI Wilson (Colonel, USMC, retired) discusses the legacy of SecDef Gates.  Following that is Gates’ enigmatic statement about resigning, and the official denial.

Gates’ departure will be noticed. Gates clearly discerns the insidious effects of the paradox of power. The paradox of power undermines and corrupts the cognitive processes of so many in DC land. Gates set out to do something about the paradox of power and the Pentagon blubber-bloat and layering.  Gates, like the late Col. John Boyd (father of the OODA Loop), focuses on doing something for the National security and not merely sitting next to the big window wanting to be somebody.

Gates is by no means is perfect; he knows that and has not lost sight of his flaws. Yet, Gates has always tried to the right thing for the Nation and those who serve in the armed forces as others (to include generals and admirals) focus on doing the right thing for their careers. Gates in a politically correct DC dares to exhibit a “profile in courage”.

Yes, Gates’ departure will be noticed.

Update:  “Gates’s Legacy” — Foreign Policy magazine asked five experts to weigh in on what the U.S. defense secretary leaves behind. 

Is Gates leavings?  Gates’ words vs. the official denial

The interview in which Gates appears to have announced his departure:  “The Transformer“, Fred Kaplan, Foreign Policy, Feb/Oct 2010.  Excerpt:

Gates, who turns 67 in September, says he wants to leave the job and retire, this time for good, sometime in 2011. “I think that it would be a mistake to wait until January 2012,” he said. It might be hard to find a good person to take the job so late, with just one year to go in the president’s current term. And, he added, “This is not the kind of job you want to fill in the spring of an election year.”

He pointed out that he’s the 22nd U.S. defense secretary since the position was created in 1947. “If I stay until January 2011,” he said, “I will have been in the job longer than all but four of my predecessors. And those four are Robert McNamara, Don Rumsfeld, Cap Weinberger, and Charles E. Wilson.” He laughed. All four are famous for having stayed long past their welcome. Two of them, McNamara and Rumsfeld, started out energetic and celebrated before tumbling into the traps of ill-considered wars.

Then again, Gates said much the same thing about not wanting to stick around after 2008. Is his new countdown ticker, set to go off in 2011, another “covert action,” as he put it, to discourage Obama from asking him to stay? He certainly doesn’t say so. But if the president does ask, Robert Gates has always been the type to say, “Yes.”

Response by press secretary Geoff Morrell to Reuters:

“Don’t get carried away. This is not Bob Gates announcing he is stepping down. This is somebody who has been a failure at retirement, musing about when it would make sense to try again. … All he was doing here was expressing the logic about leaving with enough time on the clock for the president to backfill him. … That Gates would like to leave should not come as news to anybody.”

Other posts about SecDef Gates

  1. Secretary Gates would be a hero – if speeches could reform DoD, 6 May 2008
  2. I was wrong about SecDef Gates – here is a more accurate view of him, 7 May 2008
  3. Obama’s national security team: I hope you didn’t really believe in change?, 26 November 2008
  4. Does Secretary of Defense Gates have cojones grande?, 8 April 2009
  5. Can we answer SecDef Gates’ question about NATO and the Af-Pak War?, 19 May 2009

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