A Conversation with Robert Gates

Robert M. Gates, former defense secretary of the United States and former CIA director, in conversation with Associate Professor of History Benjamin Tromly, will present the Spring 2018 Susan Resneck Pierce Lecture in Public Affairs and the Arts.

As secretary of defense under two presidents—Barack Obama and George W. Bush—and through two wars—Iraq and Afghanistan—Robert Gates shares with audiences his candid insights on global politics and world affairs, U.S. intelligence and defense strategies, leadership in a large institution, and the global challenges of the 21st century. Considered “the soldier’s secretary” for his commitment to placing the men and women in uniform as his top priority, Gates made significant advances in soldier safety including replacing vehicles in the field with heavily armored vehicles, which, according to USA Today, reduced roadside bomb attacks and fatalities by almost 90 percent. A three-time recipient of the Distinguished Intelligence Medal, the CIA’s highest award, he is the only career officer in the CIA’s history to rise from entry-level employee to director. A nonpartisan senior-level official, considered an anomaly by The Washington Post, Gates provided leadership and guidance that earned him the National Security Medal, the Presidential Citizens Medal, and the National Intelligence Distinguished Service Medal. Successes include the reshaping of U.S. nuclear weapons policies, the removal of troops from Iraq and the resurgence of troops in Afghanistan—culminating in the death of Osama bin Laden. His New York Times #1 best-selling book, DUTY: Memoirs of a Secretary at War (January 2014), is a straightforward, vividly written account of his experience serving Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. In his latest book, A Passion for Leadership: Lessons on Change and Reform from Fifty Years of Public Service (January 2016), Gates blends wisdom with candor and draws on years of exceptional experience to offer readers a powerful, informative and pragmatic look at leadership. He is currently working on a third book, which will address the use and misuse of power in America.

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