Just as only Richard Nixon could go to China, only Robert Gates could propose massive cuts to the U.S. Defense budget. As the former head of the CIA and the only member of George W. Bush's Cabinet to be kept on by President Obama, the current Secretary of Defense has proved his conservative bona fides many times over. Gates' proposed cuts which involve trimming officers' ranks, scrapping costly conventional-warfare projects like the F-22 and eliminating the Joint Forces Command have been unpopular with Pentagon brass and many politicians on both sides of the aisle, and it's far from certain how many of them will actually get done. But the Secretary says they are essential if the U.S. is to be fully prepared for 21st century conflicts and get its debt-saddled economic house in order. When not busy waging battle over the Pentagon budget, Gates spent much of 2010 overseeing the withdrawal of most U.S. forces from Iraq and the buildup of troops in Afghanistan, all while being outspoken about the military's need to finally end its "Don't ask, don't tell" policy and allow gays to serve their country openly.
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