Washington, DC–U.S. Senator Harry Reid of Nevada released the following statement today on the confirmation of Dr. Robert Gates to be Secretary of Defense.
“I support the nomination of Robert Gates to be Secretary of Defense. I have been impressed with his record of public service and the level of candor he has brought to his confirmation hearings. Yesterday, Dr. Gates said we’re not winning in Iraq. It is that kind of honesty we need in a Secretary of Defense. I hope he will continue to speak openly about the challenges we face and be an agent of change in the Bush Administration–most importantly on Iraq.
“Most experts agree that Iraq is now embroiled in a civil war, and our troops are caught in the middle. Policing a civil war between Shia and Sunni is not something for which our country or our military consented. As the Iraq Study Group recommended, the Bush Administration must begin to transition the mission in Iraq, reducing America’s combat footprint and beginning to extricate our troops from the middle of this sectarian strife. In short, America needs more than a change in personality at the Defense Department. There must be major course corrections and changes in policy.
“In addition, Dr. Gates must come to Congress with a solid plan for addressing the readiness of our military which is under strain and at risk because of the Administration’s Iraq strategy. He must help the Administration develop an effective approach for curbing Iran and North Korea’s nuclear ambitions. And Dr. Gates must spearhead a new effort to ensure a successful outcome for Afghanistan, as part of a broader fresh look at our strategy for the war on terror, the hunt for Osama Bin Laden, and the struggle to empower moderates and combat violent extremists. These are serious issues that deserve to be addressed properly.
“The stakes for our nation are high, and the task before Dr. Gates is a great one. But today, he has our support and a commitment to work together to solve this nation’s national security challenges.”