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Robert Gates Fast Facts

Here’s a look at the life of former CIA Director and former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates.


Birth date: September 25, 1943

Birth place: Wichita, Kansas

Birth name: Robert Michael Gates

Father: Melville A. Gates, wholesale auto parts salesperson

Mother: Isabel V. Gates

Marriage: Rebecca (Wilkie) Gates (1966-present)

Children: Eleanor, Bradley

Education: College of William and Mary, B.A., History, 1965; Indiana University, M.A., History, 1966; Georgetown University, Ph.D., Russian and Soviet history, 1974

Military Service: US Air Force, 2nd Lieutenant

Other Facts

At the time of his appointment, Gates was the youngest person ever to assume the role of CIA director. Plus, he is the only CIA director to rise from an entry level position to lead the agency.

He is the ninth naval officer to lead the Central Intelligence Agency.

Gates has served under every US president from Richard Nixon through Barack Obama.


1966 – Is recruited as an analyst for the CIA.

1971 – As an intelligence analyst specializing in Soviet affairs, Gates is assigned to the CIA’s support staff at the initial negotiations between the United States and Soviet Union on reducing strategic arms.

1974-1979 – Member of the National Security Council staff.

January 1980 – Is reassigned to the CIA as national intelligence officer on the Soviet Union and executive assistant to the director, Stansfield Turner.

January 1981 – Becomes executive assistant to new CIA Director William J. Casey. Gates is also director of the Office of Policy and Plans and chairman of the Executive Career Service.

January 1982 – Is promoted to deputy director for Intelligence and is in charge of the analytical branch of the agency.

September 1983 – Is appointed chairman of the National Intelligence Council.

April 18, 1986 – Is promoted to deputy director of Central Intelligence.

December 1986-March 1987 – Is acting director during Casey’s surgery for a brain tumor.

January 29, 1987 – Casey resigns as director of the CIA.

February 2, 1987 – US President Ronald Reagan nominates Gates to be Casey’s successor.

March 2, 1987 – Gates withdraws his nomination due to continued questioning about his involvement in the Iran-Contra affair. He stays on as deputy director under William H. Webster.

January 1989 – National Security Adviser Brent Scowcroft appoints Gates as his deputy.

May 14, 1991 – US President George H. W. Bush nominates Gates to succeed Webster as director of the CIA.

November 5, 1991 – The Senate confirms Gates, 64-31. At the time, the 31 “nay” votes represented the strongest Senate opposition ever received by a CIA director nominee.

November 12, 1991 – Gates is sworn in as the nation’s 15th director of Central Intelligence.

January 20, 1993 – Steps down as CIA director.

1996 – His memoir, “From the Shadows: The Ultimate Insider’s Story of Five Presidents and How They Won the Cold War,” is published.

December 1996 – At the request of the administration of US President Bill Clinton, Gates chairs an independent panel reviewing the possibility of missile threats to North America over the next 15 years.

1999-2001 – Is interim Dean of the George Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M University.

August 1, 2002-December 16, 2006 – Is president of Texas A&M University.

February 2005 – Is offered the position of director of national intelligence by US President George W. Bush but turns it down.

November 8, 2006 – Is nominated by President Bush to be the new secretary of defense to replace Donald Rumsfeld.

December 6, 2006 – The Senate confirms Gates, 95-2.

December 18, 2006 – Is sworn in as the 22nd secretary of defense.

December 1, 2008 – President-elect Obama announces that Gates will stay on as defense secretary for at least the first year of Obama’s presidency.

June 30, 2011 – Resigns as secretary of defense, to be replaced by Leon Panetta. President Obama awards Gates the Presidential Medal of Freedom during his retirement ceremony.

February 3, 2012 – Gates is invested as the 24th Chancellor of the College of William and Mary.

2012-present – A principal in the consulting firm RiceHadleyGates LLC, along with founding members Condoleezza Rice, Stephen Hadley and Anja Manuel.

October 30, 2013 – The Boy Scouts of America announces that Gates has been nominated to head the organization for a two-year term.

2014 – Gates’ book, “Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War,” is published.

May 22, 2014-May 26, 2016 – Gates serves as the national president of the Boy Scouts of America.

May 21, 2015 – Citing social, judicial and political changes, Gates calls for the Boy Scouts of America to end its ban on gay adult leaders.

Article Topic Follows: US & World

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