President Barack Obama announced on Dec. 1, 2008 that current Defense Secretary Robert Gates would stay on the job into his administration. In making that selection, Mr. Obama was able to make a statement to the continuity of government, even as he says he plans to give the military new orders in Iraq once he takes office. The choice also fulfills a campaign promise to put a Republican in the Cabinet. At the news conference announcing the appointment, Gates said he was "honored to serve President-elect Obama." He has also made clear that his agreement with Mr. Obama is "open-ended" and that he has
"no intention of being a caretaker secretary."
Gates, 65, was selected by President Bush to be Defense Secretary in 2006, following Donald Rumsfeld's departure after the midterm elections. At the time, he was president of Texas A&M University. However, he spent most of his career in the CIA and the intelligence community, rising from entry-level analyst all the way up to director from 1991-1993 for President George H.W. Bush. He has an undergraduate degree from the College of William and Mary, a master's degree from Indiana University and a Ph.D. in Russian and Soviet History from Georgetown University.