Friday, May 15, 2009

Gates Says He Finds Defense Job ‘Very Painful’ in Time of War

Defense Secretary Robert Gates said he finds his job “very painful” and stayed on as a holdover from former President George W. Bush’s administration because “it’s my duty” to U.S. fighting men and women.

In an interview with Katie Couric to be broadcast on CBS’s “60 Minutes” May 17, Gates also said it would take two years to four years before the Afghan army can begin taking the lead in military operations against the Taliban and al Qaeda.

CBS released excerpts of the interview in advance of the broadcast.

“The truth of the matter is, being secretary of war in a time of war is a very painful thing,” Gates said. “How can you like a job when you go to Walter Reed,” the Army medical center in Washington, “and you know you sent those young men and women in harm’s way?”

Gates, 65, stayed on as defense secretary at the request of President Barack Obama. Gates had taken the post in December 2006, replacing Donald Rumsfeld.

“Every single person in combat today I sent there and I never forget that for a second,” Gates said. “I don’t enjoy my job.”

He also compared his current and former bosses.

Gates described Bush, 62, as “committed, questioning and eager to make a decision and move on.”

Of Obama, 47, he said: “Deliberative, decisive and calm.”