Posts tagged ‘Gates’

July 1, 2011

Obama hails retiring Gates, the ‘humble’ patriot

Gates is stepping down after four years in a tough post at a time of great international turmoil. PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON: US President Barack Obama hailed retiring Defense Secretary Robert Gates Thursday as an honest, humble man who loved his troops and had one of the best tenures of any civilian Pentagon chief.

Obama appeared at an elaborate farewell ceremony to the gritty Gates, who is stepping down after four years in a tough post at a time of great international turmoil, including the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

In a surprise move, Obama also presented Gates at the Pentagon with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor he can bestow.

Obama said Gates was “a humble American patriot, a man of common sense and decency, quite simply one of our nation’s finest public servants.”

“Today, you are not only one of the longest serving American secretaries of defense in American history. It is also clear you have been one of the best,” Obama said at a ceremony punctuated by roars from jets taking off from nearby Reagan National Airport.

Gates, a consummate Washington operator who has served eight presidents in various roles, including leading the CIA, was a man who had the backs of his troops and “loved them and fought for them,” Obama said.

“I am deeply honored and moved,” Gates said after the surprise award of the medal, a twist to the ceremony not included on the official program.

“We should have known a couple of months ago, you are getting pretty good at this covert ops stuff,” he joked, in a reference to the raid Obama ordered into Pakistan in May which killed al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden.

Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who opened the ceremony, also paid tribute to Gates as “impenetrably” honest, with a sharp sense of humor.

“He tells it straight, no bull, no fancy words.”

“He can throw a barb with the best of them — like the time he called Washington the only place in the world where somebody can walk down lover’s lane holding their own hand.”

Gates, whose tenure at the Pentagon overlapped former president George W. Bush and Obama, will be succeeded by another Washington public service veteran, Leon Panetta, who has been leading the CIA.

June 30, 2011

US, Pakistan ‘need each other’: Gates

US Defense Secretary says it is critical for the US to maintain ties with Pakistan. PHOTO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON: Outgoing US Defense Secretary Robert M Gates said on Thursday that it was critical for the United States to maintain ties with Pakistan despite growing anti-Americanism in the Pakistani military and the worst relationship between the two countries in years.

Gates was speaking during a news conference along with Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of StafF Admiral Mike Mullen.

“The long history of the US-Pakistani relationship has had its ebbs and flows,” said Gates. “We need each other, and we need each other more than just in the context of Afghanistan.”

Gates declined to say that the was “winning” the war, despite US claims of recent military gains. “I have learned a few things in four and a half years, and one of them is to try to stay away from loaded words like ‘winning’ and ‘losing,’ ” he said. “Our military operations are being successful in denying the Taliban control of populated areas, degrading their capabilities and improving the capabilities of the Afghan national security forces.”

Both Gates and Mullen deflected a question on whether they were concerned that General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani might be in danger of losing his position.

Pakistan-US ties reached their lowest point in recent history after American Seals conducted a unilateral raid in Abbottabad to kill al Qaeda’s chief Osama Bin Laden.

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June 30, 2011

US, Pakistan ‘need each other’: Gates

US Defense Secretary says it is critical for the US to maintain ties with Pakistan. PHOTO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON: Outgoing US Defense Secretary Robert M Gates said on Thursday that it was critical for the United States to maintain ties with Pakistan despite growing anti-Americanism in the Pakistani military and the worst relationship between the two countries in years.

Gates was speaking during a news conference along with Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of StafF Admiral Mike Mullen.

“The long history of the US-Pakistani relationship has had its ebbs and flows,” said Gates. “We need each other, and we need each other more than just in the context of Afghanistan.”

Gates declined to say that the was “winning” the war, despite US claims of recent military gains. “I have learned a few things in four and a half years, and one of them is to try to stay away from loaded words like ‘winning’ and ‘losing,’ ” he said. “Our military operations are being successful in denying the Taliban control of populated areas, degrading their capabilities and improving the capabilities of the Afghan national security forces.”

Both Gates and Mullen deflected a question on whether they were concerned that General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani might be in danger of losing his position.

Pakistan-US ties reached their lowest point in recent history after American Seals conducted a unilateral raid in Abbottabad to kill al Qaeda’s chief Osama Bin Laden.

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