Gates becomes US defence secretary

Ex-CIA director replaces Donald Rumsfeld as the US defence secretary.

    Gates will inherit a US military that has been strained by five years of war in Afghanistan and Iraq

    At his senate confirmation hearing on December 5, Gates said that he intended to travel to Iraq "very soon" after being sworn in.
     
    Crucial juncture
     
    Rumsfeld was the chief architect of the war in Iraq and has repeatedly defended the decision to invade in March 2003.
     
    Gates' appointment comes at a crucial juncture in the Iraq war - a conflict that cost Rumsfeld his job.
     
    Prior to his nomination, Gates was a member of the Iraq Study Group, a a commission that recommended policy changes in Iraq to George Bush, the US president and the congress.
     
    Beyond Iraq, Gates will advise the president on North Korea and Iran.
     
    Bush nominated Gates, a CIA director during the administration of Bush's father, after voters swept Republicans out of power in an election driven in large part by frustration over the Iraq war.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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