Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War

by Robert M. Gates,
The San Francisco Chronicle, January 26, 2014

The greatest challenge faced by a secretary of defense, according to Robert Gates, is the crushing impact "of dealing daily with multiple problems, pivoting on a dime every few minutes from one issue to another...and then making decisions, always with too little time and too much ambiguous information." As he deals with "difficult allies and difficult foes" around the world, moreover, the secretary also has his "hands full with both in Washington, D.C.," as he copes with bureaucratic infighting and inertia, conflicts within the executive branch, and the partisan abyss in Congress. In the early 21st century, Gates points out, "crises don't come and go - they all seem to come and stay."

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