Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War

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

prior to Robert M. Gates obtained a decision from the White residence 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 defense Council, he used to be satisfied in his position as president of Texas A&M collage. but if he was once requested to assist a kingdom mired in wars and to assist the troops doing the combating, he spoke back what he felt was once the decision of responsibility. Now, during this unsparing memoir, meticulously reasonable in its checks, he's taking us behind the curtain of his approximately 5 years as a secretary at warfare: the battles with Congress, the 2 presidents he served, the army itself, and the tremendous 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 constructed at the activity.

In pertaining to his own trip as secretary, Gates attracts us into the innermost sanctums of presidency and army strength throughout the top of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, illuminating iconic figures, very important negotiations, and important events in revealing, intimate element. supplying unvarnished value determinations of Dick Cheney, Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, and Presidents Bush and Obama between different key 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 way to care for 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 location Room through the Bin weighted down raid. And, searingly, he exhibits how congressional debate and motion or inactivity on every little thing from apparatus budgeting to troop withdrawals used to be usually stimulated, to his expanding melancholy and anger, extra by means of celebration politics and media impression than via participants’ wants to shield our infantrymen and confirm their good fortune.

despite the fact that embroiled he turned within the trials of Washington, Gates makes transparent that his middle was once consistently within the most vital theater of his tenure as secretary: front traces. We trip with him to either struggle zones as he meets with active-duty troops and their commanders, awed via their braveness, and likewise witness him greet coffin after flag-draped coffin lower back to U.S. soil, heartbreakingly conscious that he signed each deployment order. In frank and poignant vignettes, Gates conveys the human rate of struggle, and his admiration for these courageous sufficient to adopt it whilst worthwhile.
Duty tells a strong and deeply own tale that permits us an remarkable examine administrations and the wars that experience outlined them.

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There by no means used to be intentional overlook of the troops and their healthiness. there has been, notwithstanding, a poisonous mixture of unsuitable assumptions concerning the wars themselves; a risk-averse paperwork; budgetary judgements made in isolation from the battlefield; military, army and Air strength concentration in Washington at the regimen funds technique and holding funds for destiny courses; a White condominium ignorant of the desires of the troops and disinclined to pay a lot realization to the handful of contributors of Congress who pointed to those wishes; and a Congress more commonly so fascinated with the politics of the battle in Iraq that it was once asleep on the swap or just too pusillanimous while it got here to the desires of the troops.

I informed him precisely what i assumed: “I’m frightened we’re deploying [military advisers] that aren't thoroughly informed and I’m frightened we've got a few army forces that don’t understand how to do counterinsurgency operations. … lots of the ecu forces, NATO forces, aren't expert in counterinsurgency; they have been knowledgeable for the Fulda Gap,” the realm of Germany the place a Soviet invasion of Western Europe used to be concept probably to ensue. a favourite announcing of mine is “Never omit an excellent chance to close up,” yet I blew that opportunity during this interview, and remember that, all hell broke free within the alliance.

With violence expanding in Cairo, I talked to Tantawi back that day, stressing the necessity for the transition “to be significant, peaceable, and to start now,” and for a large spectrum of the competition to be integrated. I expressed trouble that if the transition technique didn't continue speedy, the demonstrations might proceed, nutrients shortages and financial stipulations may aggravate, and the feelings of the Egyptian humans may heighten—all of that could good result in the location spinning uncontrolled.

I might develop into the major recommend for buying the troops already at conflict what they wanted. John additionally made transparent the significance of getting self sustaining advocates for offer (recruiting, education, and equipping the troops) and for call for (the wishes of commanders within the field). Commanders within the box may be proscribing their requests for troops, he felt, out of the assumption that the variety of troops they sought after weren't on hand. therefore, i might insist that box commanders inform me what percentage troops and what sort of gear they felt have been required and allow me care for the best way to get them.

As continuously, Dick laid out his perspectives logically and analytically. He, Rice, Hadley, and I—often joined via Mike Mullen, Director of nationwide Intelligence Mike McConnell, and CIA director Mike Hayden—would take a seat round the convention desk in Hadley’s White condominium place of work and, whereas consuming lunch or munching on chips and salsa, move over the alternatives dealing with the president. Cheney knew that, one of the 4 people, he by myself concept a strike could be the 1st and purely choice. yet might be he might convince the president.

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