« Previous Story | Front Page | Next Story »


Gates Has Served Our Nation Well

By Alan Jilka
Opinion | May 18, 2011

SALINA, Kan. - Recently, in between the outing of "First Farce," Donald Trump and the successful mission that killed Osama bin Laden was a little-commented upon announcement regarding the shake-up of President Obama's national security team. The changes are being set in motion by the upcoming retirement of Defense Secretary Robert Gates. When the widely-respected Gates steps this down this summer the nation will lose one of its exemplary public servants.

Bob Gates is that rare breed in Washington - someone who has reached a level of respect that transcends partisan politics, an individual held in high esteem for many reasons, primarily his reputation for professional competence. And although some will regard his career as a bit tainted due to questions about how much he knew about the Iran-Contra affair, his tenure as Defense Secretary has been widely admired.

A native of Wichita, Kansas, Gates came to government service via an academic career that culminated in his receipt of a PhD from Georgetown in Russian and Soviet history.

He entered the CIA in 1966, and after a two-year stint in the Air Force during which he was commissioned a Second Lieutenant, he served the agency until 1993, the last year and a half as its Director. He is still the only person who began at the CIA as an entry level employee and rose all the way to the top of the organization. During his twenty-seven year career at the agency he also served four Presidents of both parties during nine years with the National Security Council.

When President Obama retained Gates in his cabinet after his election in 2008 he took a page out of President Clinton's playbook. In his second term Clinton had tapped Republican Senator William Cohen from Maine for Secretary of Defense. By choosing a prominent member of the opposition party for the post the President made an effort to take Defense policy out of the partisan arena. The move was largely successful.

President George W. Bush returned to the custom of choosing a Defense chief from the President's own party by bringing back the ideology and ego-driven Donald Rumsfield, who had served in the same post in the Nixon Administration. Rumsfield served for six years in the post, and when his presence in the Cabinet finally became politically untenable for the President, Bush put out the call to Gates, by then serving as President of Texas A & M University. Gates accepted the offer (and presumably an accompanying pay cut) to return to government service.

He proved to be a calming influence whose pragmatism and even-keeled demeanor have helped steer our military through some of the most difficult challenges of the 21st century to date. He has been able to provide leadership in areas ranging from Guantanamo to multiple foreign engagements and proposed cuts in the Defense budget due to the respect he commands from all sides.

When Gates explained his acceptance of newly-elected President Obama's offer to remain at his Defense post, he noted that during his tenure he had been forced to extend the deployments of thousands of our troops. Now, placed in a similar situation, it was necessary that he respond to the same call of duty and continue in his post.

In naming Gates'successor President Obama has chosen someone from his own party. And Leon Panetta is currently basking in the glow of the successful commando raid in Pakistan. Although it might have been preferable to choose someone from the other party, according to press reports Panetta was recommended by Bob Gates. Assuming that is in fact the case he's off to a good start.


2 Comments

Thanks for this homage to a quiet man who has served his country well. His lack of chest thumping and war mongering is a welcome relief to what we experienced before Gates took the job. He will be missed. Panetta has some big shoes to fill.


I always liked Secretary Gates. I thought keeping him on at the Pentagon was one of Pres. Obama's best Cabinet decisions.


Post your own comment here


Do you want to read more? You've only just scratched the surface at the Kansas Free Press. We have so much more to read! Nearly all of the pieces published here are timeless and relevant, regardless of when the articles were first published. To discover more, please take a look at our Table of Contents or go back to our Front Page.


Our sponsors help us stay online to serve you. Thank you for doing your part! By using the specific links below (clicking through from our site) to start any of your online shopping, you are making a tremendous difference. By using the shopping links provided on a Kansas Free Press page, you are directly helping to support the Kansas Free Press:



About This Page

This page contains just one story published on May 18, 2011. The one written previous to this is titled "Culture of Cruelness v. Culture of Wisdom" and the story published right after this one is "Sam Brownback's WWII Values"

Our most current stories are always updated on our Front Page.

Other Archives

Interested in other topics? You may wish to poke around in our Table of Contents to find other sections and archives.

Do you want to explore pieces written by specific authors? You can find archives for KFP writers by reviewing our complete Directory of Authors and Writers here.

Recently Featured Stories

My Response As a Kansan to Jessica Valenti

Jessica Valenti has come on board The Nation magazine to fill in for Katha Pollitt as the feminist columnist while Pollitt is on leave to write a book. I've found reading Valenti's columns thought-provoking and insightful. She often takes …
Of Angels and God's Dogs

There might be a whole group of us out there--people who value our relationships with animals on a par with our ties to people. "Get over it--it was just a dog" does not resonate with us. Our society places …
Of Angels and God's Dogs

There might be a whole group of us out there--people who value our relationships with animals on a par with our ties to people. "Get over it--it was just a dog" does not resonate with us. Our society places …
Roots of the n-word

While N-word dialogue has slackened following Saline County Commissioner Gile's use of it recently, the word still has great power. So, let's look inward at the N-word. To reach a much deeper path to understanding, simply go to Ad …
Corporate Tax Reform

Basehor, Kans.--For an interesting twist on the corporate tax debate, look at Alan Sloan's opinion in the April 29 issue of Fortune Magazine. In all of the froth about corporate taxation, neither proponents of tax reduction, nor corporate critics, …

News and Opinion





Get Connected

See our FB page!
Subscribe for free!
[Feeds & Readers...]
Follow Kansas Free Press on Twitter, too!
Make Kansas Free Press your home page!

Journalists, sign in.

We're reader supported!

Whenever you use the specific links below to begin any of your online shopping, a portion of your sale goes directly towards the support of this site.

Tech Depot - An Office Depot Co.


Our sponsors help us stay online to serve you. Thank you for doing your part! By using the specific links above (clicking through from our site) to start any of your online shopping, you are making a tremendous difference. By using the shopping links provided on a Kansas Free Press page, you are directly helping to support the Kansas Free Press.

Thank you for your help!

Notices & Policies

All of our Kansas Free Press journalists are delighted that you are here. We all hope that you come here often, sign in and leave us comments, and become an active part of our community. Welcome!

Our writers are credentialed after referral to, and approval by, the editor/publisher of KansasFreePress.com. If you are interested in writing with us, please feel free to let us know here. We are always looking for Kansans who want to write about Kansas!

All authors here retain their own copyrights for their original written works, original photographs and art works. They welcome others to copy, reference or quote from the content of their stories, provided that the reprints include obvious author and website attribution and links to the original page, in accordance with this publication's Creative Commons License.

Our editor primarily reviews stories for spelling, grammar, punctuation and formatting and is not liable or responsible for the opinions expressed by individual authors. The opinions and accuracy of information in the individual stories on this site are the sole responsibility of each of the individual authors. For complete site policies, including privacy, see our Frequently Asked Questions. This site is designed, maintained, and owned by its publisher, Everyday Citizen Media. The Kansas Free Press, KansasFreePress.com, and Kansas Free Press are trademarked names.

© Copyright, 2008-2012, all rights reserved, unless otherwise specified, first by the respective author, and then by KFP's publisher and owner for any otherwise unreserved and all other content.