[Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents Volume 42, Number 45 (Monday, November 13, 2006)]
[Pages 2033-2035]
[Online from the Government Printing Office, www.gpo.gov]

<R04>
Remarks on the Resignation of Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld 
and the Nomination of Robert M. Gates To Be Secretary of Defense

November 8, 2006

    The President. Good afternoon, and welcome to the White House. 
Earlier today I announced my intent to nominate Robert Gates to be the 
next Secretary of the Defense, and now I'm pleased to introduce him to 
the American people. I also am looking forward to paying tribute to the 
man he will succeed.
    America remains a nation at war. We face brutal enemies who despise 
our freedom and want to destroy our way of life. These enemies attacked 
our country on September the 11th, 2001. They fight us in Afghanistan 
and Iraq, and they remain determined to attack our country again. 
Against such enemies, there's only one way to protect the American 
people: We must stay on the offense and bring our enemies to justice 
before they hurt us again.

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    In this time of war, the President relies on the Secretary of 
Defense to provide military advice and direct our Nation's Armed Forces 
as they engage our enemies across the world. The Secretary of Defense 
must be a man of vision who can see threats still over the horizon and 
prepare our Nation to meet them. Bob Gates is the right man to meet both 
of these critical challenges.
    Bob is one of our Nation's most accomplished public servants. He 
joined the CIA in 1966 and has nearly 27 years of national security 
experience, serving six Presidents of both political parties. He spent 
nearly 9 years serving on the National Security Council staff. And at 
the CIA, he rose from an entry-level employee to become the Director of 
the Central Intelligence. And his experience has prepared him well for 
this new assignment.
    Bob understands the challenges we face in Afghanistan. As President 
Reagan's Deputy Director of Central Intelligence, he helped lead 
America's efforts to drive Soviet forces from Afghanistan. Success in 
these efforts weakened the Soviet regime and helped hasten freedom's 
victory in the cold war.
    Bob understands the challenges facing our Nation in Iraq. He served 
as Deputy National Security Adviser to the first President Bush during 
Operation Desert Storm, as American troops repelled Iraqi aggression and 
drove Saddam Hussein's forces from Kuwait. More recently, he served as a 
member of the Iraq Study Group, a distinguished independent panel of 
Republicans and Democrats led by former Secretary of State Jim Baker and 
former Congressman Lee Hamilton. As part of this commission, he has 
traveled to Iraq and met with the country's leaders and our military 
commanders on the ground. He'll provide the Department with a fresh 
perspective and new ideas on how America can achieve our goals in Iraq.
    Bob understands how to lead large, complex institutions and 
transform them to meet new challenges. As Director of Central 
Intelligence following the collapse of the Soviet Union, he was 
responsible for leading all the foreign intelligence agencies of the 
United States. And he's brought that same leadership and abilities as 
his work as president of our Nation's sixth largest university, Texas 
A&M. When the A&M board of regents interviewed him for the job, he 
described himself as an agent of change. As president, he delivered on 
that promise, initiating wide-ranging reforms to almost every aspect of 
campus life. He'll bring that same transformational spirit to his work 
in the Department of Defense.
    Bob Gates is a patriot whose love for country was nurtured in the 
Kansas community where he was raised. He's worn our Nation's uniform. 
He's a strategic thinker who was educated at three of America's finest 
universities, receiving his bachelor's degree from William & Mary, a 
master's degree in history from Indiana University, and a doctorate in 
Russian and Soviet history from Georgetown.
    He's a leader in the business community who served on the boards of 
several major corporations. He's a man of integrity, candor, and sound 
judgment. He knows that the challenge of protecting our country is 
larger than any political party, and he has a record of working with 
leaders of both sides of the aisle to strengthen our national security. 
He has my confidence and my trust, and he will be an outstanding 
Secretary of Defense.
    Bob follows in the footsteps of one of America's most skilled and 
capable national security leaders, Donald Rumsfeld. Don is the longest 
serving member of my Cabinet, and next month he will reach another 
milestone when he becomes the longest serving Secretary of Defense in 
the history of our Nation. I appreciate his willingness to continue 
serving until his successor is in place, because in a time of war, our 
Nation cannot be without a strong and steady hand leading our Department 
of Defense.
    Don has served in times of great consequence for our Nation. Few 
will forget the image of Don Rumsfeld as he helped rescue workers carry 
the victims from the rubble of the Pentagon on September the 11th, 2001. 
In the weeks that followed, he directed the effort to plan our Nation's 
military response to an unprecedented attack on our soil. Under his 
leadership, U.S. and coalition forces launched one of the most 
innovative military campaigns in the history of modern warfare, driving 
the Taliban and its Al Qaida allies from power in a matter of weeks.

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    In 2003, on my orders, he led the planning and execution of another 
historic military campaign, Operation Iraqi Freedom, that drove Saddam 
Hussein from power and helped the Iraqi people establish a 
constitutional democracy in the heart of the Middle East. History will 
record that on Don Rumsfeld's watch, the men and women of our military 
overthrew two terrorist regimes, liberated some 50 million people, 
brought justice to the terrorist Zarqawi and scores of senior Al Qaida 
operatives, and helped stop new terrorist attacks on our people.
    America is safer and the world is more secure because of the service 
and the leadership of Donald Rumsfeld. As he led the Pentagon in an 
unprecedented war, Don never took his eye off another vital 
responsibility: preparing America for the threats that await us as this 
new century unfolds. He developed a new defense strategy. He established 
a new Northern Command to protect the homeland, a new Joint Forces 
Command to focus on transformation, a new Strategic Command to defend 
against long-range attack, and transformed the U.S. Special Operations 
Command for the war on terror.
    He led our efforts to create a new NATO Response Force that allows 
NATO to deploy rapidly anywhere in the world. He undertook the most 
sweeping transformation of America's global force posture since the end 
of World War II. He revitalized America's efforts to develop and deploy 
ballistic missile defenses, and led a comprehensive review of America's 
nuclear forces that has allowed us to undertake dramatic reductions in 
offensive nuclear weapons.
    Don's work in these areas did not often make the headlines. But the 
reforms that he has set in motion are historic, and they will enhance 
the security of the American people for decades to come.
    Over the past 6 years, I've relied on Don Rumsfeld's advice and 
counsel. I've come to know his character and his integrity. As the 
Secretary of Defense, he has been dedicated to his mission, loyal to his 
President, and devoted to the courageous men and women of our Armed 
Forces.
    Don once famously said, ``There are known knowns; there are known 
unknowns; and there are unknown unknowns.'' Well, Mr. Secretary, here is 
a known known: Your service has made America stronger and made America a 
safer nation. You will be missed, and I wish you and Joyce all the best 
in the years to come.

    Don Rumsfeld is a tough act to follow. That's why I picked a man of 
Bob Gates's caliber to succeed him. When confirmed by the Senate, Bob 
will bring talent, energy, and innovation to the Department of Defense. 
He'll work every day to keep the American people safe and to make our 
Nation more secure. And he'll do a superb job as America's next 
Secretary of Defense.

    Bob, I appreciate you agreeing to serve our Nation again, and 
congratulations.

[At this point, Secretary-designate Gates and Secretary of Defense 
Rumsfeld made brief remarks.]

Note: The President spoke at 3:30 p.m. in the Oval Office at the White 
House. In his remarks, he referred to former President Saddam Hussein of 
Iraq; and Joyce Rumsfeld, wife of Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld. The 
transcript released by the Office of the Press Secretary also included 
the remarks of Secretary-designate Gates and Secretary of Defense 
Rumsfeld. The Office of the Press Secretary also released a Spanish 
language transcript of these remarks.