Michael's Dispatches

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates Sets Me Straight

9 Comments

29 May 2009

Secretary Gates arrived in Singapore after a 35 hour flight from Kansas.  The aircraft landed several times along the way due to a technical issue that precluded in-flight refueling.  But he got here.

And so tonight, during an off the record conversation (except for this part), Secretary Gates said he read my site this morning where I reported that he had canceled a visit with some troops.  He pointed out to me -- very clearly and kindly -- that he doesn't cancel on troops.  And to be sure, I saw Secretary Gates spend a lot of time with troops on the last trip; it's clear that he was looking forward to getting out among the troops.  Secretary Gates likes to talk with young soldiers -- so if you are a young soldier and have any questions, get them ready.  He will stop and answer your questions.  Have seen him do it many times on the last trip.  (Some of those questions could not possibly have been popular with their commanders.)

When Secretary Gates saw me he paused to say hello and chat for a bit, but then later it was not fun for me when I got corrected by Secretary Gates in front of a bunch of high-horsepower people.  But I did get reliable word from downrange that some troops thought he had canceled.  Secretary Gates wanted the record straight.  Nothing is canceled.

I respected him even more for calling me out on that.  My information was accurate (soldiers think he canceled), but his information is also accurate.  Despite the aircraft problems, he's on the way.

Record corrected.  I return to duty.

Michael


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  • This commment is unpublished.
    John · 10 years ago
    I was just commenting this morning to a friend that Michael is a very reliable source of information, unlike some internet "blogger" wanna-bes.
    I was pleased to read this post. No one expects perfection. Unfortunately we have been trained to expect unfiltered hogwash from the media without ever knowing the level of accuracy.

    It takes a real man to own up to a mistake. In my opinion, this honest mis-communication has served a greater purpose. By "falling on his sword" and clarifying the information. Michael has solidified my faith in his work.

    Godspeed my friend.
    Keep up the good work.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Shelle Michaels · 10 years ago
    Michael-

    Mighty big of you to put it down for the record-- yet, so many of us look for your reports of the truth == you are a credible source. The more you are willing to accept responsibility for your actions, the more credibility you will have. You have worked hard for that and I commend you for your continued efforts.




    Thanks for all you do-


    Shelle
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Tony · 10 years ago
    I agree with the previous comment. It is impossible to get everything correct 100% of the time. I commend you for posting this and always being up front. Drive on!

    all the way,

    Tony
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Neville Arjani · 10 years ago
    Michael, I think you're once again proving to be a big man BUT I question Secretary Gates' need to dress you down in front of others.

    I think it takes a bit of arrogance to say that he would never cancel on the troops. What if hostilities broke out in the Korean theatre, would he not cancel then? Regardless, you handled it like a gentleman and a scholar -- also, why mess up a good source for future stories? I personally would have used words less restrained.

    Keep up the great work, Michael.

    Neville
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Scott Dudley, CDR, · 10 years ago
    I thought it was funny. No big deal. A couple of straight shooters getting it right. Wonder if he checks your site routinely or only when he is going to meet with you? Lots of the troops he is going to see will see this and gain even more respect for the both of you. That is a good thing.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    wayne slaymaker · 10 years ago
    I am hoping that he had enough time to read your posts on the value of your recent training stint in Borneo.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    CJ · 10 years ago
    Michael, this is why people keep reading you. You're not afraid to tell it like it, even there is a bit of embarrassment on your part. Good job and glad to hear that the SecDef is reading the right stuff!
  • This commment is unpublished.
    David Waller · 10 years ago
    I love how real men communicate with one another. Straight, to the point, no BS.

    I saw Mr. Gates here last month and he struck me as a Good Guy. I am grateful President Obama kept him on.
    ddw
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Ray Esquivel · 10 years ago
    Thanks Michael for letting us in on a bit of a difficult situation. I do agree with one poster that it could have been handled a bit more discreetly, however, it would be interesting to know who else was in the group of "high horsepower people." Knowing that may in and of itself provide the answer as to why he chose to handle you that way.

    I can only sympathize with Mr. Gates on having to walk a fine line with his new boss. Some of the things I read about what he says make me question his loyalty to the troops. However, I also realize that he needs to fend off the wolves and he knows best how to do that. Overall, I admire his dedication to our country and am also glad that he has stayed on. I have no doubt that he is able to stand up to Our Dear Leader, when needed, and tell the King he has no clothes on.

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