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Robert M. Gates

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ASSOCIATED PRESS Marine Corps Gen. James N. Mattis arrives at Camp Pendleton Marine Corps Base in San Diego County, Calif. Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates says he wants Gen. Mattis to take over U.S. Central Command, replacing Gen. David H. Petraeus.

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Former U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates is second-guessing the president's decision to seek Congress' approval before firing on Syria. (Associated Press)

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Former U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates is second-guessing the president's decision to seek Congress' approval before firing on Syria. (Associated Press)

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**FILE** In this photo taken Dec. 7, 2010, former Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates pins Combat Infantry badges on soldiers at Forward Operating Base Connolly in Kunar Province, Afghanistan. (Associated Press)

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Those who know the old “tip of the spear” insignia of the World War II-era Office of Strategic Services gathered Saturday to celebrate former Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates. (OSS Society)

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Those who know the old “tip of the spear” insignia of the World War II-era Office of Strategic Services gathered Saturday to celebrate former Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates. (OSS Society)

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Gates Retrospective_Live_mugshot_four_by_three.jpg

**FILE** In this photo taken Dec. 7, 2010, former Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates pins Combat Infantry badges on soldiers at Forward Operating Base Connolly in Kunar Province, Afghanistan. (Associated Press)

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Former Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates speaks at the University of North Texas in Denton, Texas, on Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2011, as part of the school's commemoration of the 10th anniversary of Sept. 11. (AP Photo/Denton Record-Chronicle, David Minton)

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President Obama (center) and Adm. Mike Mullen (right), chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, sit with outgoing Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates during a tribute to Mr. Gates on June 30, 2011, at the Pentagon. (Associated Press)

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Gates Retrospective_Live.jpg

**FILE** In this photo taken Dec. 7, 2010, former Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates pins Combat Infantry badges on soldiers at Forward Operating Base Connolly in Kunar Province, Afghanistan. (Associated Press)

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Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates made his final official visit with troops in Afghanistan this month. "Getting on that plane was very hard. Leaving them behind and still in the fight," he said Sunday. "They're so dedicated and so confident, and they're so capable. They're just extraordinary people." (Associated Press)

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PENTAGON REFORMER: Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates “forced the system to change, and he made heads roll,” says Lexington Institute Director Loren B. Thompson. (Associated Press)

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ASSOCIATED PRESS President Obama (seated, second from left), Vice President Joseph R. Biden (far left), Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton (seated, second from right), Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates (seated, far right) and others follow the unfolding mission that resulted in the death of Osama bin Laden.

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Gates Interview_Lea.jpg

Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates pauses during an interview with the Associated Press in his office at the Pentagon on Monday, June 13, 2011. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

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U.S. Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates (right) and NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen attend a round-table meeting of NATO defense ministers in Brussels on Thursday, June 9, 2011. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo)

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Belgium NATO US Gate_Lea.jpg

U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates (right) shakes hands with NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen at a meeting of NATO defense ministers in Brussels on Wednesday, June 8, 2011. (AP Photo/Jason Reed, Pool)

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In this photo provided by the International Security Assistance Force Regional Command (South), U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates meets with service members at Forward Operating Base Walton on Sunday, June 5, 2011, in Kandahar, Afghanistan. (Photo/US. Navy, Lt. j.g. Haraz N. Ghanbari)

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Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates pats Army veteran Craig Gerhartz on the back prior to speaking at the Rolling Thunder rally Sunday. Mr. Gerhartz, from South River, N.J., served in the Army during the Vietnam War. Mr. Gates gave him two military "challenge coins." (Drew Angerer/The Washington Times)

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Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates speaks at the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research in Washington on Tuesday, May 24, 2011. "I am determined that we not repeat the mistakes of the past, where budget targets were met mostly by taking a percentage off the top," he said. (Associated Press)

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Outgoing Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates issues a warning against slashing spending. (Associated Press)