Senate confirms new Defense secretary Gates

The Senate yesterday confirmed the Defense Department's new secretary, Robert Gates, by a vote of 95-2.

The Senate voted 95-2 yesterday to confirm Robert Gates as the Defense Department's next secretary.

'I am pleased the Senate has overwhelmingly voted to confirm Dr. Robert Gates as the next secretary of Defense,' said President Bush in a statement yesterday. 'In his confirmation hearing, Dr. Gates demonstrated he is an experienced, qualified and thoughtful man who is well respected by members of both parties. ''

The Senate Armed Services Committee approved Gates' nomination at his confirmation hearing on Tuesday.

Incoming Armed Services Committee chairman Carl Levin (D-Mich.) said during the hearing that Gates 'will face the monumental challenge of picking up pieces from broken policies and mistaken priorities of the past few years.'

He said that includes the Iraq war and its aftermath, the resurgent Taliban in Afghanistan, the need to repair and replace billions of dollars in equipment, increase the number of nondeployed troops and take control of weapons programs with rising costs.

'[Being secretary of Defense] will require an individual who is creative, fair and open-minded, and above all an individual who can listen to, learn from and work with others,' Levin said at the nomination hearing. 'It will also require an individual who is willing to speak truth to power and encourage others to do the same.'

Rumsfeld was a proponent of Defensewide IT transformation. Gates inherits a department where each of the services are taking on multibillion-dollar IT transformation programs such as Future Combat Systems and Joint Strike Fighter, developing the components of the Global Information Grid, consolidating business systems and determining the best way to manage their allotment of radio frequency spectrum.

Before becoming Defense secretary Gates was president of Texas A&M University. He also served in the Air Force from 1966 to 1969 and then joined the CIA, where he spent more than 26 years as an intelligence professional, including nearly nine years assigned to the National Security Council. He served as head of the CIA from 1991 to 1993 and deputy director from 1986 to 1989.

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