Rumsfeld steps down as DOD secretary

After six tumultuous years as Defense Department secretary, which included persistent calls for his ouster by retired military commanders, Donald Rumsfeld is finally stepping down.

One day after Democrats handed Republicans a substantial defeat to claim control of the House, and possibly the Senate ' a loss that was predicated in large part on the war in Iraq ' Bush today nominated Robert Gates, former head of the CIA, to replace Rumsfeld.

The nomination comes just several weeks after the president promised he would keep Rumsfeld on through the remainder of his term.

During a White House press conference, Bush said both he and Rumsfeld agreed it was time for a change at DOD. Bush nominated Gates, a 26-year CIA veteran who served as CIA director under Bush's father.

'Our military has experienced an enormous amount of change and reform during the last five years while fighting the war on terror, one of the most consequential wars in our nation's history,' Bush told reporters. 'Don Rumsfeld has been a superb leader during a time of change, yet he also appreciates the value of bringing in a fresh perspective during this time of war.'

Bush called Rumsfeld a 'patriot' and a 'trusted adviser' who has led the Defense Department 'with honor and distinction.'

Since leaving the CIA, Gates wrote his memoirs and became president of Texas A&M University. The Senate will have to confirm the nomination.

As Defense secretary, Rumsfeld established the DOD Office of Force Transformation to shepherd how the services and agencies thought about transformation. Rumsfeld has also touted the need for DOD reform and the values of network-centric warfare.

John Grimes, Defense CIO, echoed Bush's sentiments, calling Rumsfeld 'a true patriot.'

'We owe him a great deal of thanks for his selfless dedication and his service to our nation,' Grimes added.

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