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When Robert Gates became the twenty-second secretary of defense in December 2006, his first job was to be a secretary of war,¬ to define and implement the Iraq "surge" strategy under President George W. Bush. He has continued in a similar role under President Barack Obama, playing a leading part in formulating strategy in Afghanistan. At the same time, Secretary Gates has exerted enormous influence on the Department of Defense as an institution, demanding first that the Pentagon "win the wars we're in."
At AEI on May 24, Secretary Gates will deliver one of his last Washington addresses as secretary of defense. The politics of deficit reduction has convinced many that military spending should be "on the table." Gates has argued that any defense budget cuts should be driven by strategy, not "math." As he prepares to leave the Pentagon's E ring, he is uniquely placed to map the right road ahead for America's military.
Immediately following Secretary Gates’s speech, AEI vice president for foreign and defense policy studies Danielle Pletka will host a discussion among three prominent defense experts, Michael O’Hanlon of the Brookings Institution, Christopher Preble of the Cato Institute, and Tom Donnelly, director of AEI’s Center for Defense Studies. The panel will offer quick-reaction analysis of the policies outlined in Gates’s remarks, while placing them in the context of the current defense-budget political debate as well as his legacy as secretary of defense.
Follow expert opinion on Secretary Gates's speech, and join the discussion on Twitter with your own reaction, using the hashtag #AEIGates.
ARTHUR BROOKS, AEI
SECRETARY OF DEFENSE ROBERT GATES, Department of Defense
Question and Answer
DANIELLE PLETKA, AEI
CHRISTOPHER PREBLE, Cato Institute
MICHAEL O' HANLON, The Brookings Institution
THOMAS DONNELLY, AEI
Arthur C. Brooks is the president of AEI. Until January 1, 2009, he was the Louis A. Bantle Professor of Business and Government Policy at Syracuse University. He is the author of eight books and many articles on topics ranging from the economics of the arts to applied mathematics. His most recent books include The Battle: How the Fight Between Free Enterprise and Big Government Will Shape America's Future (Basic Books, 2010), Gross National Happiness (Basic Books, 2008), Social Entrepreneurship (Prentice Hall, 2008), and Who Really Cares (Basic Books, 2006). Before pursuing his work in public policy, Mr. Brooks spent twelve years as a professional French hornist with the City Orchestra of Barcelona and other ensembles.
Robert M. Gates has served as the US secretary of defense since December 2006. He is the only secretary of defense in US history to be asked to remain in that office by a newly elected president. Before holding this position, Secretary Gates was the president of Texas A&M University. He joined the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in 1966 and spent nearly twenty-seven years as an intelligence professional. During that period, he spent almost nine years at the White House National Security Council, serving four presidents of both political parties. Secretary Gates was director of central intelligence from 1991 to 1993. He has received the National Security Medal, the Presidential Citizens Medal, the National Intelligence Distinguished Service Medal (twice), and the CIA's highest award, the Distinguished Intelligence Medal (three times). He is the author of the memoir From the Shadows: The Ultimate Insider's Story of Five Presidents and How They Won the Cold War (Simon & Schuster, 1996). Until becoming secretary of defense, he served as chairman of the independent trustees of the Fidelity Funds, the country's largest mutual-fund company, and on the board of directors of NACCO Industries Inc., Brinker International Inc., and Parker Drilling Company Inc.