Robert Michael Gates is an American statesman and university president who served as the 22nd United States Secretary of Defense from 2006 to 2011. Gates served for 26 years in the Central Intelligence Agency and the National Security Council, and under President George H. W. Bush was Director of Central Intelligence. Gates was also an officer in the United States Air Force and during the early part of his military career, he was recruited by the CIA. After leaving the CIA, Gates became president of Texas A&M University and was a member of several corporate boards. Gates served as a member of the Iraq Study Group, the bipartisan commission co-chaired by James A. Baker III and Lee H. Hamilton, that studied the lessons of the Iraq War.
Gates was nominated by Republican President George W. Bush as Secretary of Defense after the 2006 election, replacing Donald Rumsfeld. He was confirmed with bipartisan support. In a 2007 profile written by former National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski, Time named Gates one of the year's most influential people. In 2008, Gates was named one of America's Best Leaders by U.S. News & World Report.