Gates to Stay on As Secretary of Defense, Tamping Down Reed Speculation

The periodic chatter about Senator Jack Reed serving as Secretary of Defense in the Obama Administration should go quiet for awhile, with news that Secretary Robert Gates plans to stay on at least through 2010. From the Associated Press:

WASHINGTON—Defense Secretary Robert Gates, the most prominent Republican in President Barack Obama's inner circle, plans to remain in his Cabinet post for at least another year. Gates told Obama in December that he would stay on at least through the end of 2010, Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell said Thursday. The White House had no immediate comment.

Gates held the top defense job for two years under President George W. Bush. Obama had asked Gates to stay on shortly after Obama won the 2008 presidential election. The move was meant to maintain stability in a time of two wars and made good on an Obama promise to include Republicans among his close advisers.

Gates' tenure in the Obama administration was never spelled out but was assumed to be for at least one year. Nearly a year into the Obama administration, Gates appears to be a key adviser and has showed no sign that he intended to be a short-timer.

"They agreed to revisit this issue again later this year," but the commitment is open-ended, Morrell said.

Gates, 66, "certainly looks forward to one day retiring to his family home in the Pacific Northwest," Morrell added.

Several names had been mentioned as potential successors to Gates, including Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Obama has every reason to keep Gates in place for as long as he can. As a Republican who commands wide respect in Washington, he provides substantial political cover for the president's moves in Afghanistan and Iraq. Reed, for his part, has maintained that he is commited to his work in the Senate. And he can claim substantial influence on the administration from his current post.

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