As President-elect Obama pieces together his cabinet, no decision is more consequential than his choice of Secretary of Defense. With two difficult wars ongoing, many are suggesting that Obama would be foolish to replace a competent and successful Sec-Def like Gates. Such a move would open a seam that enemies are sure to attempt to exploit.
Prof. Alan Gropman of the Industrial College of the Armed Forces at the National Defense University wrote an op/ed in several publications before the election urging the incoming president to keep Gates.
To accelerate senatorial ratification, President-elect McCain or Obama should consider selective reappointing of well-qualified senior officials. The most important would be Defense Secretary Robert Gates. Since Congress is in session before the presidential inauguration, either McCain or Obama could have that crucial position filled soonest.
Gates had rich and distinguished experience in government before becoming defense secretary – service on the National Security Council staff and director of Central Intelligence – and demonstrated capability as a scholar.
More importantly, he has been decisive as defense secretary, removing senior officials whom he believed were failed executives. There is ample precedent for continuing valuable executives; Franklin Roosevelt did so during World War II, as did Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War.
This is no time to lose an officer of Gates’ caliber, but it is especially critical not to leave the office open with two wars raging while security agencies and the Senate vet a newcomer.
The Augean Stables can confirm that senior Obama advisors read Gropman’s piece, but it is unknown if Obama himself did.
InsideDefense.com reports on a wrinkle in this affair. They allege that Obama’s team offered the post to Gates, but only on condition that Adm. Richard Danzig, an Obama, get the number two spot, with the intention of moving him into Gates’ position. Gates sees no reason to shuffle a team that he is happy working with, and would have no problem going back to Texas A&M if he has a new team imposed upon him.
Advisers to president-elect Barack Obama are in negotiations with Defense Secretary Robert Gates about the conditions of a continued tenure at the helm of the Pentagon, InsideDefense.com has learned.
The Obama team wants to put Richard Danzig into the deputy defense secretary job, according to a source close to the president-elect’s transition team. The plan is to elevate the former Navy secretary to the top Pentagon post following a transition period during which Gates would remain secretary, a source close to the Obama transition team said.
But Gates said he wants to keep his current deputy, Gordon England, in place during that time, the source said this evening, describing the situation as an “impasse.”
The situation is too tenuous to risk losing a Secretary like Gates. Obama should take Gropman’s advice and ensure continuity in this crucial office.