Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War

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From the previous secretary of protection, a strikingly candid, vividly written account of his adventure serving Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama throughout the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

ahead of Robert M. Gates acquired a choice from the White apartment in 2006, he concept he’d left Washington politics in the back of: after operating for 6 presidents in either the CIA and the nationwide protection Council, he was once chuffed in his function as president of Texas A&M college. but if he was once requested to aid a country mired in wars and to assist the troops doing the scuffling with, he responded what he felt was once the decision of accountability. Now, during this unsparing memoir, meticulously reasonable in its tests, he is taking us behind the curtain of his approximately 5 years as a secretary at struggle: the battles with Congress, the 2 presidents he served, the army itself, and the titanic Pentagon forms; his efforts to aid Bush flip the tide in Iraq; his position as a guiding, and sometimes dissenting, voice for Obama; the ardent devotion to and love for American soldiers—his “heroes”—he built at the activity.

In touching on his own trip as secretary, Gates attracts us into the innermost sanctums of presidency and army energy throughout the peak of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, illuminating iconic figures, important negotiations, and demanding occasions in revealing, intimate aspect. delivering unvarnished value determinations of Dick Cheney, Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, and Presidents Bush and Obama between different key avid gamers, Gates exposes the complete spectrum of behind-closed-doors politicking inside of either the Bush and Obama administrations.

He discusses the good controversies of his tenure—surges in either Iraq and Afghanistan,  the best way to take care of Iran and Syria, “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell,” Guantánamo Bay, WikiLeaks—as they performed out at the back of the tv cameras. He brings to lifestyles the placement Room throughout the Bin encumbered raid. And, searingly, he exhibits how congressional debate and motion or state of being inactive on every little thing from apparatus budgeting to troop withdrawals used to be frequently prompted, to his expanding depression and anger, extra through occasion politics and media impression than by way of individuals’ wants to safeguard our infantrymen and confirm their good fortune.

even though embroiled he turned within the trials of Washington, Gates makes transparent that his middle used to be regularly within the most crucial theater of his tenure as secretary: front strains. We trip with him to either warfare zones as he meets with active-duty troops and their commanders, awed by means of their braveness, and likewise witness him greet coffin after flag-draped coffin again to U.S. soil, heartbreakingly conscious that he signed each deployment order. In frank and poignant vignettes, Gates conveys the human expense of battle, and his admiration for these courageous adequate to adopt it while valuable.
Duty tells a robust and deeply own tale that enables us an unparalleled examine administrations and the wars that experience outlined them.

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This may require assuming a few degree of extra, yet applicable, danger within the conventional sphere [emphasis added]. we don't expect this resulting in a lack of dominance or major erosion in those functions. This passage, and particularly the italicized sentence, resulted in a uprising; the chairman of the Joint Chiefs, the secretaries of the military and Air strength, and the executive of employees of the military all refused to conform to that language. there has been “no margin to simply accept extra hazard in conventional functions to speculate in different strength areas,” they argued. I met with the Joint Chiefs and combatant commanders in mid-May. I requested how they differentiated among “risk” linked to present wars and “risk” linked to our skill to reply to destiny threats. “Why do you imagine that nation opponents will depend upon conventional services to problem us? ” I requested. i didn't disagree with them at the have to arrange for large-scale, state-to-state clash, yet i used to be no longer conversing approximately relocating major assets clear of destiny traditional functions. I simply sought after the safeguard finances and the companies officially to recognize the necessity to supply for nontraditional features and make sure that the assets invaluable for the conflicts we have been probably to struggle have been additionally integrated in our budgeting, making plans, education, and procurement. i used to be relocating the needle little or no. yet even that was once an excessive amount of, given the danger it posed to the institutional military’s modernization priorities. eventually, I agreed to a little bit water down my language within the NDS, yet i'd proceed to recommend publicly for extra stability in our protection making plans and procurement. this can look summary and prefer prosaic bureaucratic infighting, yet those issues, which not often interact most people, have very actual effects for our women and men in uniform and for our nationwide safety, specially whilst budgets are tight and difficult offerings has to be made. on the finish of September 2008, on the nationwide safeguard collage in Washington, D. C. , I summarized the problems and issues that have been on the root of my conflict with the Pentagon for almost years. The stability we're striving for is: • among doing every little thing we will to be triumphant within the conflicts we're in, and being ready for different contingencies that would come up in other places, or sooner or later; • among institutionalizing features corresponding to counterinsurgency and balance operations, in addition to assisting companions construct skill, and holding our conventional edge—above all, the technological facet opposed to the army forces of different realms. i don't are looking to depart the effect that I fought my wars contained in the safety division by myself. aside from the NDS and one or different matters, Mike Mullen used to be a steadfast best friend. such a lot combatant commanders and all box commanders engaged in Iraq and Afghanistan evidently have been supportive. On many matters, specifically these related to wounded warriors, the senior army management was once both correct beside me or good in entrance of me, as soon as the issues have been pointed out.

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