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Mr. Gates has focused most of his time at the Pentagon on the Iraq war since taking over for Donald H. Rumsfeld in December 2006.

Mr. Obama stated on his campaign’s Web site that “immediately upon taking office,” he will order the defense secretary and military commanders to end the Iraq war and withdraw U.S. troops “responsibly.”

He said Oct. 30 that he views it as important to have Republicans in senior leadership posts in his administration, but he did not answer a direct question on whether he would keep Mr. Gates.

Among those considered for the key national security post of defense secretary are former Clinton administration Navy Secretary Richard Danzig, an Obama adviser, and Sen. Chuck Hagel, Nebraska Republican and critic of the Bush administration’s war-on-terror policies.

CIA Director Michael V. Hayden also may resign or be replaced.

Asked whether Mr. Hayden will leave or stay, CIA spokesman George Little pointed to a statement Mr. Hayden sent to CIA employees Wednesday that said “those privileged to lead this organization understand that they serve at the pleasure of the president.”

Obama spokeswoman Wendy Morigi declined to comment on planned appointments or requests for officials to stay in place.

Director of National Intelligence Michael McConnell also suggested that he may step down before the new administration. In a message to employees that was obtained by The Washington Times, Mr. McConnell said intelligence agencies have been working for months to prepare for the transition, which is about to enter “a critical stage” after the election and before the inauguration.

“A new national security team will soon emerge,” Mr. McConnell said. “The current administration is leaning forward to ensure that the incoming team has security clearances and access to sensitive intelligence as soon as possible.”

Intelligence agencies will both be working with the current administration and helping the incoming team, he said.

“We will be responsive to both and will work out priorities should conflicts arise.”

A spokesman for Mr. McConnell said the director said earlier that he intends to leave at the end of the current administration unless he is asked to stay on for a period during the transition.

Obama and missile defense

Defense specialists say one likely policy change at the Pentagon under the incoming Obama administration will be funding cuts and program modifications for U.S. strategic missile defenses.

During the presidential campaign, Mr. Obama stated that he opposes “unworkable” missile defenses but that he thinks missile defenses are needed to counter Iranian and North Korean missiles.

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