What Is Robert Gates Really Fighting For?

A trusted aide to six Presidents, Robert Gates is the most powerful Defense Secretary in a generation. But what is the Republican at the head of Obama's war room fighting for?

Lynsey Addario for TIME

Gates being briefed at Camp Eggers in Kabul during a tour of Afghanistan last December.

Correction Appended: Feb. 5, 2010

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates flies around the world to war zones and allies, to China and Russia and Suriname, on a Cold War relic called the Doomsday Plane. Forged in the 1970s by Boeing, it was designed to stay aloft even in the midst of nuclear war. It's an airborne Pentagon. The plane is so heavy that it needs refueling in midair on long flights. The Air Force crew aboard told me that on occasion, the fuel nozzle from the floating tankers has smashed through the pilots' windshield like an...

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