Rumors are rife within the Pentagon that defense secretary Robert Gates will depart public service sometime in the next few months, perhaps as early as December. Reporters who travel with Gates say that an early exit has always seemed implicit in his comments about future plans. But when we first reported the rumors last summer, the thinking was that Gates would leave sometime “during the 2011 budget cycle” — perhaps after briefing the proposed budget to Congress in February. Now some insiders say Gates might go even sooner.
Many explanations are offered for why Gates would go soon. The Quadrennial Defense Review is largely done. He only promised the President he would stay one year. He isn’t as close to Obama as people think. His wife doesn’t like Washington. Etc. Maybe it’s all nonsense. But if you listen closely to Pentagon insiders, it sure seems like people are getting ready for a succession, with John Hamre and Richard Danzig (in that order) the leading candidates to take the helm.
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