Robert Gates to stay as US Defence Secretary

November 26th, 2008 - 8:31 am ICT by IANS  

Barack ObamaWashington, Nov 26 (DPA) US Defence Secretary Robert Gates has agreed to stay in the job for at least one year of president-elect Barack Obama’s administration, ABC News and Politico reported Tuesday, citing unnamed officials.With Gates at the helm, Obama keeps in place a key architect of the troop buildup in Iraq that contributed to the sharp decrease in violence during the past 15 months. But Gates will be given new orders: Obama has pledged to have all US combat forces out of Iraq within 16 months of taking office Jan 20.

Asking Gates to stay on also helps Obama fulfil a pledge to have a bipartisan cabinet.

“It is a done deal,” a source close to the process told ABC News. Politco confirmed the report, citing Democratic and Republican officials. Gates is a registered independent but has served in numerous Republican administrations. He replaced Donald Rumsfeld as Pentagon chief in December 2006.

Obama has spent this week announcing his economic team, and is next week expected to present his national security and foreign policy appointments.

Obama will reportedly announce that former rival Hillary Clinton has agreed to give up her Senate seat to become secretary of state, and that retired Marine General James Jones, formerly commandant of the Marines and commander of US and NATO forces in Europe, will become national security adviser, Politico reported.

Democratic sources told Politco they expect James B Steinberg, who served on Bill Clinton’s National Security Council, to be deputy secretary of state.

Politico also reported that Obama’s senior foreign policy advisor during the campaign, Susan Rice, will be named US ambassador to the United Nations, and retired Navy admiral Dennis C Blair, the former chief of the US Pacific Command with stints in the CIA and on the Joint Chiefs of Staff, will be named the director of national intelligence.

The office coordinates the activities of the various US intelligences agencies, including the CIA and super secretive National Security Agency.

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