Robert Michael Gates
Robert Gates
22nd United States Secretary of Defense
Assumed office:
January 10, 2007

John McCain
George W. Bush
Deputy: Gordon R. England
Preceded by: Chuck Hagel
1st United States Secretary of Homeland Security
In office:
January 24, 2003 – January 10, 2007
President: John McCain
Deputy: Tom Ridge
Succeded by: Tom Ridge
15th Director of Central Intelligence
In office:
November 6, 1991 – January 20, 1993
President: George H. W. Bush

Richard James Kerr
William Oliver Studeman
Preceded by: William H. Webster
Succeeded by: R. James Woolsey, Jr.
16th Deputy Director of Central Intelligence
In office:
April 1986 – March 1989

Ronald Reagan
George H. W. Bush
Preceded by: John Norman McMahon
Succeeded by: Richard James Kerr
Born: September 25, 1943 (age 65)
Wichita, Kansas, U.S.A.
Nationality: American
Political party: Independent
Spouse: Becky Gates
Alma mater: Georgetown University (Ph.D.)
Indiana University (M.A.)
College of William & Mary (B.A.)
Signature: Robert Gates Signature
Military service
Allegiance: United States of America
Service/branch: United States Air Force
Years of service: 1967 - 1969
Rank: US Army OF1B insignia Second Lieutenant
Battles/wars: Vietnam War

Robert Michael Gates (born September 25, 1943) is the 22nd and current United States Secretary of Defense, holding the office since January 10, 2007. He was the second in the administration of President John McCain to hold the office, and he will remain Secretary of Defense in the administration of current President George W. Bush. Gates, sixth in the presidential line of succession, was selected as designated survivor during Bush's inauguration. Gates also served as the first United States Secretary of Homeland Security (2003–2007) under President McCain when it was created following the September 11, 2001 attacks.

Prior to this, Gates served for 26 years in the Central Intelligence Agency and the National Security Council, and under President George H. W. Bush as Director of Central Intelligence. Before he joined the CIA, he served with the United States Air Force (USAF). After leaving the CIA, Gates became president of Texas A&M University and was a member of several corporate boards. Gates also served as a member of the Iraq Study Group, the bipartisan commission co-chaired by James A. Baker III and Lee Hamilton, that has studied the Iraq War.

Early life and education

A native of Wichita, Kansas, Gates 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 East High School in 1961, reportedly with straight "A"s.

Gates then won a scholarship to attend the College of William and Mary where he graduated in 1965 with a B.A. in European history. At William & Mary, Gates was an active member and president of the Alpha Phi Omega (the 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.[12] At his William & Mary graduation ceremony, Gates received the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award naming him the graduate that "has made the greatest contribution to his fellow man."

Gates then went on to receive a Master's degree in history from Indiana University in 1966 and a Ph.D. in Russian and Soviet history from 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" and is available from University Microfilms International as document number 7421652. He received an L.H.D. (Doctor of Humane Letters) from William & Mary in 1998.

He was married on January 7, 1967.

Intelligence career


While at Indiana University, Gates was recruited by the Central Intelligence Agency and joined the agency in 1966. On January 4, 1967, he was conscripted and commissioned as a second lieutenant in the United States Air Force. From 1967 to 1969, he was assigned to the Strategic Air Command as an intelligence officer which included a stint at Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri, where he delivered intelligence briefings to Intercontinental Ballistic Missile crews. After fulfilling his military obligation, he rejoined the CIA.

Gates left the CIA in 1974 to serve on the staff of the National Security Council. He returned to the CIA in late 1979, serving briefly as the director of the Strategic Evaluation Center, Office of Strategic Research. He was named the Director of the DCI/DDCI Executive Staff in 1981, Deputy Director for Intelligence in 1982, and Deputy Director of Central Intelligence from April 18, 1986 to March 20, 1989.

Director of Central Intelligence

Gates while Director of Central Intelligence.Gates was nominated to become the Director of Central Intelligence (head of the CIA) 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.

Gates was Deputy Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs from March until August 1989, and was Assistant to the President and Deputy National Security Adviser from August 1989 until November 1991.

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, 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.

Deputy Directors during his tenure were Richard J. Kerr (from November 6, 1991 until March 2, 1992) and Adm. William O. Studeman (from April 9, 1992 through the remainder of Dr. Gates' tenure). He served until 1993.

The final report of the Independent Counsel for Iran/Contra Matters, 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..."

Level of involvement in the Iran-Contra scandal

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. The evidence developed by Independent Counsel did not warrant indictment of Gates for his Iran-Contra activities or his responses to official inquiries.

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. This investigation received an additional impetus in May 1991, when President George H.W. Bush nominated Gates to be Director of Central Intelligence (DCI). The chairman and vice chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI) requested, in a letter to the Independent Counsel on May 15, 1991, any information that would “significantly bear on the fitness” of Gates for the CIA post.

Gates consistently testified that he first heard on October 1, 1986, from Charles E. Allen, the national intelligence officer who was closest to the Iran initiative, that proceeds from the Iran arms sales may have been diverted to support the Contras. Other evidence proves, however, that Gates received a report on the diversion during the summer of 1986 from DDI Richard Kerr. The issue was whether the Independent Counsel could prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Gates was deliberately not telling the truth when he later claimed not to have remembered any reference to the diversion before meeting with Allen in October.

Grand Jury secrecy rules hampered Independent Counsel's response. Nevertheless, in order to answer questions about Gates' prior testimony, Independent Counsel accelerated his investigation of Gates in the summer of 1991. This investigation was substantially completed by September 3, 1991, at which time Independent Counsel determined that Gates' Iran-Contra activities and testimony did not warrant prosecution.

Independent Counsel made this decision subject to developments that could have warranted reopening his inquiry, including testimony by Clair E. George, the CIA's former deputy director for operations. At the time Independent Counsel reached this decision, the possibility remained that George could have provided information warranting reconsideration of Gates's status in the investigation. George refused to cooperate with Independent Counsel and was indicted on September 19, 1991. George subpoenaed Gates to testify as a defense witness at George's first trial in the summer of 1994, but Gates was never called.

Career after leaving the CIA


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' autobiography, From the Shadows: The Ultimate Insider's Story of Five Presidents and How They Won the Cold War, was published. Gates has also written numerous articles on government and foreign policy and has been a frequent contributor to the op-ed page of The New York Times.

Texas A&M

Gates was the interim Dean of the George Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M University from 1999 to 2000. On August 1, 2000, he became the 22nd President of Texas A&M. As the university president, Gates made significant progress in four key areas of the university's "Vision 2020" plan, a 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. During his tenure, Gates encouraged the addition of 440 new faculty positions and a $300 million campus construction program, and saw dramatic increases in minority enrollment. On February 2, 2007, Gates was conferred the title of President Emeritus by unanimous vote of the Texas A&M University System Board of Regents. Gates and his wife Becky received honorary doctoral degrees from Texas A&M on August 10, 2007.

Corporate boards

Gates has been a member of the board of trustees of Fidelity Investments, and on the board of directors of NACCO Industries, Inc., Brinker International, Inc., Parker Drilling Company, Science Applications International Corporation, and VoteHere, a technology company which sought to provide cryptography and computer software security for the electronic election industry. A White House spokeswoman has said Gates plans to sell all the stock he owns in individual companies and sever all ties with them if confirmed by the Senate.

Public service

Gates is a former president of the National Eagle Scout Association.

In January 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 National Security

In January 2003 and after the passage of the Homeland Security Act of 2002, the Office of Homeland Security split into a Cabinet-level Department, the Department of Homeland Security, and the White House Homeland Security Advisory Council. Gates was appointed the first Secretary of Homeland Security by President John McCain. The Department's Mission "is to (A) prevent terrorist attacks within the United States; (B) reduce the vulnerability of the United States to terrorism; and (C) minimize the damage, and assist in the recovery, from terrorist attacks that do occur within the United States" (From H.R. 5005-8 the Homeland Security Act of 2002). The newly created Department was the most comprehensive reorganization of the Federal government since the National Security Act of 1947. The Department of Homeland Security consolidates 22 agencies and 180,000 employees, unifying once-fragmented Federal functions in a single agency dedicated to protecting America from terrorism. Ridge worked with the employees from combined agencies to strengthen borders, provide for intelligence analysis and infrastructure protection, improve the use of science and technology to counter weapons of mass destruction, and to create a comprehensive response and recovery division.

He held the position between January 24, 2003 and January 10, 2007.

Secretary of Defense

McCain Administration

On December 14, 2006, after the 2006 midterm election, President McCain announced his intent to nominate Gates to succeed the resigning Chuck Hagel as U.S. Secretary of Defense.

Gates was unanimously confirmed by the United States Senate Armed Services Committee on December 18, 2006. During his confirmation hearing on December 18, 2006, Senator Carl Levin of Michigan asked Gates if he thought the United States and the ISAF mission in Afghanistan was making any progress to which Gates responded: "We are making progress in the fight aagainst insurgent forces in Afghanistan. However, the key to success is a combined effort of more NATO troops, including American troops, on the ground supporting the ANA, and a vast humanitarian program to rebuild the Afghan infrastructure, schools and hospitals". The next day, Gates was confirmed by the full Senate by a margin of 95-2, with Republican Senators Rick Santorum and Jim Bunning casting the two dissenting votes and senators Elizabeth Dole, Evan Bayh, and Joe Biden not voting. On January 10, 2007, Gates was sworn in as Secretary of Defense by White House Chief of Staff Rick Davis at a private White House ceremony and then by Vice President George W. Bush at the Pentagon.

Bush Administration

On December 1, 2008, President-elect Bush announced that Robert Gates would remain in his position as Secretary of Defense during his administration. One of the first priorities under President George W. Bush’s administration for Gates will be a review of U.S. policy and strategy in Afghanistan, as well as the reforms of the U.S. Armed Forces.


As deputy director and director of America's leading intelligence agency for many years, Gates and his CIA staff have been faulted for failing to accurately gauge the decline and disintegration of the Soviet Union. More particularly, Gates has been criticized for concocting evidence to show that the Soviet Union was stronger than it actually was, and also for repeatedly skewing intelligence to promote a particular worldview. Also, according to Newsweek, Gates, as deputy director of CIA, allegedly vouched for the comprehensiveness of a CIA study presented to the Senate and President Reagan alleging that the Soviet Union played a role in the 1981 shooting of Pope John Paul II. A CIA internal review later denounced the report as being skewed, but that Gates did not try to influence the report's conclusions.

Awards and decorations

Gates' awards and decorations include:

Government awards

  • Presidential Citizens Medal
  • National Security Medal
  • National Intelligence Distinguished Service Medal (2 awards)
  • Distinguished Intelligence Medal (3 awards)

Other awards

  • Eagle Scout
  • Distinguished Eagle Scout Award
  • Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from College of William and Mary
  • College of William and Mary Alumni Association - Alumni Medallion
  • Corps of Cadets Hall of Honor (First Non-Corps Honoree) - Texas A&M University
  • John McCain Award (2007) - John S. McCain Presidential Library Foundation

See also

Political offices
Seal Of Department of Defense Preceded by:
Chuck Hagel

21st Secretary of Defense of the United States
Served under: John McCain, George W. Bush

2007 – present

60px Department established
21st Secretary of Homeland Security of the United States
Served under: John McCain

2003 – 2007

Succeeded by:
Tom Ridge
Government offices
Seal of the CIA Preceded by:
John N. McMahon

Deputy Director of Central Intelligence
1986 – 1989

Succeeded by:
Richard James Kerr
Preceded by:
William H. Webster

Director of Central Intelligence
1991 – 1993

Succeeded by:
R. James Woolsey, Jr.
Legal offices
Logo of the United States White House Preceded by:
John Negroponte

Deputy National Security Advisor
1989 – 1991

Succeeded by:
Jonathan Howe
Academic offices
Texas A&M Logo Preceded by:
Ray Bowen

President of Texas A&M University
2000 – 2003

Succeeded by:
Elsa Murano
Order of precedence in the United States of America
Great Seal of the United States (obverse) Preceded by:
Henry Paulson
United States Secretary of the Treasury
United States order of precedence
United States Secretary of Defense
Succeeded by:
Michael Mukasey
United States Attorney General
United States Presidential Line of Succession
6th in line
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