No Lame Duck

“I have no intention of being a caretaker secretary,” Robert Gates told Pentagon reporters Dec. 2 (see above), in speaking about his decision to stay over as Defense Secretary in the new Administration. Gates had planned to leave the top Pentagon post, which he has held since Dec. 18, 2006, and, now, when asked why he decided to remain, given his desire “to go back to the Northwest,” he said: “It was the same as with President Bush two years ago. With the country fighting two wars and our men and women in uniform at risk, if a president asks me to help, there’s no way I can say no.” Asked how long he would stay, he said: “I’ve thrown away the clock because it was absolutely useless. … The President-elect and I agreed that this would be open-ended, and so there is no time frame.” Among the tasks ahead, Gates listed acquisition reform, war strategy, care of wounded warriors, and decisions on important modernization and recapitalization projects, including tackling Air Force issues like the KC-X tanker and CSAR-X helicopter replacement programs in the time he has despite having to install a new bureaucracy. Gates indicated he expects to move those programs forward, saying, “I certainly hope and intend for it to be so.”