• Birth—September 25, 1943
• Where—Wichita, Kansas, USA
• Education—B.A., College of William & Mary; M.A., Indiana University;
Ph.D., Georgetown University
• Awards—Presidential Medal of Freedom
• Currently—president of William & Mary College, Williamsburg, Virginia
Robert Michael Gates is an American statesman and university president who served as the 22nd United States Secretary of Defense from 2006 to 2011.
Gates served for 26 years in the Central Intelligence Agency and the National Security Council, and under President George H. W. Bush became Director of Central Intelligence. Earlier, he was also an officer in the United States Air Force, and during the early part of his military career he was recruited by the CIA.
After leaving the CIA, Gates became president of Texas A&M University and was a member of several corporate boards. Gates served as a member of the Iraq Study Group, the bipartisan commission co-chaired by James A. Baker III and Lee H. Hamilton, that studied the lessons of the Iraq War.
Gates was nominated by Republican President George W. Bush as Secretary of Defense after the 2006 election, replacing Donald Rumsfeld. He was confirmed with bipartisan support. In a 2007 profile written by former National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski, Time named Gates one of the year's most influential people. In 2008, Gates was named one of America's Best Leaders by U.S. News & World Report. He continued to serve as Secretary of Defense in President Barack Obama's administration.
In 2011 Gates retired from government. “He’ll be remembered for making us aware of the danger of over-reliance on military intervention as an instrument of American foreign policy,” said former Senator David L. Boren. Gates was presented the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian award, by President Obama during his retirement ceremony. In his Washington Post book review of Gate's 2014 memoir Duty, Greg Jaffe said that Gates "is widely considered the best defense secretary of the post-World War II era."
Since leaving the Obama Administration, Gates has been elected President of the Boy Scouts of America, served as Chancellor of the College of William & Mary, and become a member of several corporate boards.
Gates was born in Wichita, Kansas, the son of Isabel V. (nee Goss) and Melville A. "Mel" Gates. He attained the rank of Eagle Scout in the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) and received the Distinguished Eagle Scout Award from the BSA as an adult. He graduated from Wichita High School East in 1961. Gates is also a Vigil Honor member within the Order of the Arrow, Scouting's National Honor Society.
Gates then received a scholarship to attend the College of William and Mary, graduating in 1965 with a B.A. in history. At William & Mary, Gates was an active member and president of the Alpha Phi Omega (national service fraternity) chapter and the Young Republicans; he was also the business manager for the William and Mary Review, a literary and art magazine. At his William & Mary graduation ceremony, Gates received the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award naming him the graduate who "has made the greatest contribution to his fellow man."
Gates went on to earn an M.A. in history from Indiana University in 1966. He completed his Ph.D. in Russian and Soviet history at Georgetown University in 1974. The title of his Georgetown doctoral dissertation is "Soviet Sinology: An Untapped Source for Kremlin Views and Disputes Relating to Contemporary Events in China." He received an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from both William & Mary (1998) and the University of Oklahoma (2011).
He married his wife Becky on January 7, 1967. They have two children.
Gates was nominated to become the Director of Central Intelligence in early 1987. He withdrew his name after it became clear the Senate would reject the nomination due to controversy about his role in the Iran-Contra affair.
Because of his senior status in the CIA, Gates was close to many figures who played significant roles in the Iran-Contra Affair and was in a position to have known of their activities. In 1984, as deputy director of CIA, Gates advocated that the U.S. initiate a bombing campaign against Nicaragua and that the U.S. do everything in its power short of direct military invasion of the country to remove the Sandinista government.
Gates was an early subject of Independent Counsel's investigation, but the investigation of Gates intensified in the spring of 1991 as part of a larger inquiry into the Iran/contra activities of CIA officials. However, the final report of the Independent Counsel for Iran-Contra Scandal, issued on August 4, 1993, said that Gates "was close to many figures who played significant roles in the Iran/contra affair and was in a position to have known of their activities. The evidence developed by Independent Counsel did not warrant indictment..."
Gates was nominated, for the second time, for the position of Director of Central Intelligence by President George H. W. Bush on May 14, 1991. This time he was confirmed by the Senate on November 5 and sworn in on November 6, becoming the only career officer in the CIA's history (as of 2005) to rise from entry-level employee to Director.
After retiring from the CIA in 1993, Gates worked as an academic and lecturer. He evaluated student theses for the International Studies Program of the University of Washington. He lectured at Harvard, Yale, Johns Hopkins, Vanderbilt, Georgetown, Indiana, Louisiana State, Oklahoma, and the College of William and Mary. Gates served as a member of the Board of Visitors of the University of Oklahoma International Programs Center and a trustee of the endowment fund for the College of William and Mary, his alma mater, which in 1998 conferred upon him honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters.
In 1996, Gates published his autobiography, From the Shadows: The Ultimate Insider's Story of Five Presidents and How They Won the Cold War. He also wrote numerous articles on government and foreign policy and was a frequent contributor to the op-ed page of the New York Times.
Gates was the interim Dean of the George Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M University from 1999 to 2001. In 2002, he became the 22nd President of Texas A&M. As the university president, he made progress in four key areas of the university's "Vision 2020" plan, to become one of the top 10 public universities by the year 2020. The four key areas include improving student diversity, increasing the size of the faculty, building new academic facilities, and enriching the undergraduate and graduate education experience.
In 2004, Gates co-chaired a Council on Foreign Relations task force on U.S. relations towards Iran. Among the task force's primary recommendation was to directly engage Iran on a diplomatic level regarding Iranian nuclear technology. Key points included a negotiated position that would allow Iran to develop its nuclear program in exchange for a commitment from Iran to use the program only for peaceful means.
At the time of his nomination by President George W. Bush to the position of Secretary of Defense, Gates was also a member of the Iraq Study Group, also called the Baker Commission, which was expected to issue its report in November 2006, following the mid-term election on November 7. He was replaced by former Secretary of State Lawrence Eagleburger.
Secretary of Defense
After the 2006 midterm elections, President George W. Bush announced his intent to nominate Gates to succeed the resigning Donald Rumsfeld as U.S. Secretary of Defense. He was sworn in on December 18, 2006.
Under the Bush administration, Gates directed the war in Iraq's troop surge, a marked change in tactics from his predecessor. With violence on the decline in Iraq, in 2008, Gates also began the troop withdrawal of Iraq, a policy continued into the Obama administration.
On December 1, 2008, President-elect Obama announced that Robert Gates would remain in his position as Secretary of Defense during his administration, reportedly for at least the first year of Obama's presidency. Gates was the fourteenth Cabinet member in history to serve under two Presidents of different parties, and the first to do so as Secretary of Defense.
One of the first priorities under President Barack Obama's administration for Gates was a review of U.S. policy and strategy in Afghanistan. While he continued the troop withdrawals in Iraq, which already had begun in the Bush administration, Gates also implemented a rapid, limited surge of troops in Afghanistan in 2009. He removed General David D. McKiernan from command in Afghanistan on May 6, 2009, replacing him with General Stanley A. McChrystal—which the Washington Post described as signaling a switch from "traditional Army" to Generals "who have pressed for the use of counter-insurgency tactics."
In a February 5, 2010 article, Time magazine's Elizabeth Rubin noted that Gates and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton "forged a formidable partnership," speaking frequently, "comparing notes before they go to the White House," meeting with each other weekly and having lunch once a month at either the Pentagon or the State Department.
Gates officially retired as Secretary of Defense on July 1, 2011 and was presented the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian award, by President Obama during his retirement ceremony.
In September of 2011, it was announced that Gates had accepted the position of chancellor at the College of William and Mary, succeeding Sandra Day O'Connor. He took the office of the chancellor on February 3, 2012.
In 2012, Starbucks Corporation announced that Gates had been elected to the Starbucks board of directors. He will serve on the board's nominating and corporate governance committee. In 2013, the Boy Scouts of America announced that Gates had been elected to the National executive board. While on this board, he will serve as the national president-elect. In May 2014, he will begin a two year long term as the BSA national president. Randall Stephenson, chairman and chief executive officer of AT&T Inc. will serve under Gates as the president-elect. Gates will be succeeding Wayne Perry as the national president.
In January 2014, Gates criticized Obama's handling of the war in Afghanistan in his autobiography, Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War, writing, "I never doubted [his] support for the troops, only his support for their mission." (Adapted from Wikipedia. Retrieved 2/26/2014.)
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