Secretary of Defense Robert Gates to Leave Pentagon in 2011

Nick Ut / AP Photo

Looks like at least one administration official is counting on us getting out of Afghanistan in 2011. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates will likely leave his post by the end of 2011, he tells Foreign Policy magazine. Gates, one of the rare cabinet officials to stay in his post in two administrations, says he wants to stay to make sure the strategy in Afghanistan is working. By then, Gates said, "We'll have completed the surge. We'll have done the assessment in December. And it seems like somewhere there in 2011 is a logical opportunity to hand off.” Waiting till January 2012 would be a mistake, as it would be harder to recruit good candidates who might worry the administration would be voted out of office, he said. However, it seems unlikely that the debate over the war in Afghanistan (to say of nothing Iraq) will have subsided by then: General David Petraeus spent the weekend backing away from the administration's July 2011 withdrawal date.