Who better to learn about the American defense industry than from a man who oversaw the entire industry through two presidencies? Robert Gates, the last Secretary of Defense for President Bush and first Secretary of Defense for President has announced the upcoming release of his tell all memoir “DUTY: Memoirs of a Secretary at War.”
Set to be released on January 14th by publisher Alfred A. Knopf, the book promises to put all of famously tight-lipped Gates’s opinions on American politics out in the open. As the only Secretary of Defense to serve under both a Republican and Democratic president, Gates gained a unique perspective on how the two parties differed in their defense strategies.
‘This is a book about my more than four and a half years at war,’ writes Gates in his introduction. ‘It is, of course, principally about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, where initial victories in both countries were squandered by mistakes, shortsightedness, and conflict in the field as well as in Washington, leading to long, brutal campaigns to avert strategic defeat. It is about the war against al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden, those responsible for our national tragedy on September 11, 2001.
“This book is also about my political war with Congress each day I was in office … and the dramatic contrast between my public respect, bipartisanship, and calm, and my private frustration, disgust, and anger. There were also political wars with the White House, staff, and occasionally with the presidents themselves and often with their Vice Presidents, Dick Cheney and Joe Biden. And finally, there was my bureaucratic war with the Department of Defense, … aimed at transforming a department organized to plan for war into one that could wage war, changing the military forces we had into the military forces we needed to succeed… there were almost as many conflicts and complications within the U.S. government as there were on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan.”
I have always respected Gates for his cool, calm, and collected demeanor when it came to speaking to the press about his role and the presidents he served. In his interviews, one always got the sense that Gates held no personal opinions, but simply carried out the duties assigned to him with a meticulous eye for detail and precision. I’m excited to see what this former CIA director has to say about the historical moments he oversaw while in office. From managing the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, to the killing of Osama bin Laden, Gates’s front seat will certainly provide valuable insight to all of us interested in learning more about the recent past and future direction of American defense policy.