From the former secretary of defense, a strikingly candid, vivid account of serving Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
When Robert M. Gates received a call from the White House, he thought he’d long left Washington politics behind: After working for six presidents in both the CIA and the National Security Council, he was happily serving as president of Texas A&M University. But when he was asked to help a nation mired in two wars and to aid the troops doing the fighting, he answered what he felt was the call of duty.
Gates was U.S. secretary of defense from 2006-2011, serving in the cabinets of both George W. Bush and Barack Obama two presidents who had little else in common. Gates's confirmation was a repudiation of his predecessor, Donald Rumsfeld, and his initial mission was to reverse a looming defeat in Iraq. As Gates, in this richly textured memoir, tells it, the Department of Defense had "alienated just about everyone in town" and the new secretary "had a lot of fences to mend." This involved overcoming resistance to maintaining the military's "nontraditional capabilities" developed in Iraq and Afghanistan. Meanwhile his efforts on behalf of Gen. David Petraeus and the Iraqi surge only exposed other intractable regional flash points. Gates "did not enjoy being secretary of defense," and his focus shifted from Iraq to Afghanistan, where "the foreign-policy team was splintering"; an agitated Israel; and an ever-difficult Iran. He also faced hot-button domestic issues like Don't Ask, Don't Tell. Gates frequently presents himself as the only adult in the room, but given his accounts of administration "micromanagement and operational meddling," a Congress that "up close... is truly ugly," frequent insider leaks, and a government suffering "paralytic polarization," his call for restoring "civility and mutual respect" is a cry from the heart.
From a Combat Vet to the Boss
I served in four combat zones over 25-years with our armed forces. I served with members every US uniformed service and many allied forces. I served in conflicts under several presidents. I have served with some of the highest ranked leaders in our uniformed military. Secretary Gates has always struck me as one of our most experienced and gifted civilian leaders. Without regard to your views of his politics he is, in my opinion, a true American hero. I have pre-ordered and will read the Secretary's book. In the discourse that is our current political quagmire we are blessed to have had someone in that key role focused on the interests of the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines as well as the combat hardened civilian team that make our military go. God Bless Secretary Gates.
Duty by Gates
"Finally" the TRUTH comes out! It's about time the right people come forward and tell America what's REALY going on behind closed doors!
A detailed and penetrating look into the Policymaking and national strategy process in Washington, including frank criticism of what the US does well, and where improvement is needed. Anyone interested in international affairs, diplomatic history, and political science should read this remarkable book.