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Robert Gates Says He'll Retire Next Year: 'Mistake' To Stick Around Until 2012

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Newscom

Gates, who had been the popular president of Texas A&M University, took the defense post under Bush in December 2006. Early in his presidential transition in 2008, Obama asked Gates to stay on the job.

"At a time when we face an unprecedented transition amidst two wars, I have asked Robert Gates to continue as Secretary of Defense, and I'm pleased that he's accepted," Obama said in December 2008, lauding Gates for having "restored accountability" at the Pentagon and winning the confidence of commanders.

Gates has been integral to Obama's new strategy with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.