Commentary: Obama should keep Gates as defense secretary

This editorial appeared in The Kansas City Star.

In the midst of two wars, continuity in national defense is a key consideration — which is why President-elect Barack Obama appears ready to keep the current defense secretary, Robert Gates.

If Gates can support Obama's objectives and the president-elect feels he can trust his judgment, it would make sense for the defense secretary to stay on the job.

Since taking over the Pentagon in 2006, Gates has performed well. He oversaw the surge of 30,000 troops that improved the situation in Iraq. He appointed Gen. David Petraeus as the top Iraq commander, who implemented a new counter-insurgency strategy.

Gates has a reputation as a decisive leader, capable of making tough decisions on a timely basis. He is a nonpartisan figure, having risen through the ranks of the CIA to hold the top job in that agency.

Gates is also known for working well with the State Department and other government agencies.

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