Dr. Robert M. Gates, a former secretary of defense and director of the Central Intelligence Agency, and the current chancellor of the College of William and Mary, will receive the 2013 George Catlett Marshall Medal, the highest award presented by the Association of the United States Army.
Awarded annually to an individual who has exhibited selfless service to the United States of America, the medal will be presented to Gates by the Association’s Council of Trustees to recognize his contributions to the United States as a cabinet member, educator, presidential adviser and a strong supporter of national defense and the men and women of the armed forces and their families.
"His service exemplifies his unique and patriotic commitment to the highest American ideals of freedom, liberty and democracy," an AUSA official said.
The award presentation will take place Oct. 23 at the George Catlett Marshall Memorial Dinner, the final event of the three-day AUSA Annual Meeting and Exposition held at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington.
"As an exceptional patriot, who served his country during our nation’s most volatile, challenging, complex and turbulent times -- including the Global War on Terrorism and an era of constrained financial resources -- Secretary Gates, as the twenty-second defense secretary and the fifteenth CIA director – displayed extraordinary and singular abilities, including uncommon dedication, diplomacy and strategic and tactical expertise,” AUSA President Gen. Gordon R. Sullivan, USA, Ret., said.
Adding, “As the first secretary of defense to be appointed to that cabinet post by two presidents of different political parties – George W. Bush and Barack Obama – he exemplified the best of public service and sacrifice to the nation.”
Sullivan also noted, "Through his close collaboration with elected, appointed, uniformed, and civilian leaders of other nations, Secretary Gates continuously and courageously demonstrated how we as a nation can fully address the national and global challenges we faced and will be facing in the future as the mission of our military evolves.
"He is a great American and truly deserving of AUSA’s highest award."
A native of Wichita, Kan., Gates graduated from the College of William and Mary with a bachelor’s degree in history, and later received a master’s in history from Indiana University and a Ph.D. in Soviet and Russian history from Georgetown University.
Recruited by the CIA in in 1966, he was sent to Officer Training School and was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Air Force. He was assigned to the Strategic Air Command as an intelligence officer.
After fulfilling his military obligation, he joined the CIA and served the agency until 1974 when he left to become a staff member at the National Security Council. He returned to the CIA in 1979.
From 1986 to 1989, he became the CIA’s deputy director of central intelligence; from 1989 to 1991, he was then deputy national security adviser to President George H.W. Bush; and on Nov. 6, 1991, he became the agency’s director – the only career CIA officer in history to rise to this position from an entry-level employee position.
He served in the CIA for nearly 27 years, serving six presidents.
He also served nine of those 27 years at the National Security Council, serving four presidents of both political parties.
Retiring from the CIA in 1993, Gates wrote his autobiography, “The Ultimate Insider’s Story of Five Presidents and How They Won the Cold War,” he was the interim dean of the George Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M University, and eventually became 22nd president of Texas A&M, the country’s seventh largest university.
On Nov. 8, 2006, after the midterm election, President George W. Bush nominated Gates to become the secretary of defense. He was confirmed by the Senate on Dec. 5.
During the Bush administration, Gates directed the troop surge in Iraq and, in 2008, with violence in that country declining, he would oversee the beginning of the American forces withdrawal from Iraq.
On Dec. 1, 2008, President-elect Barak Obama announced that Gates would remain in the cabinet as secretary of defense.
Continuing the troop withdrawals for Iraq, Gates was faced with reviewing and examining the policies and strategies of the U.S. commitment in Afghanistan, eventually resulting in the implementation of a rapid, limited surge of American troops to deal with the Taliban insurgency in that war-torn country.
Throughout his service in the Pentagon, Gates focused on fiscal restraint, and the shifting of military spending to put more emphasis on special operations and counterinsurgency to meet the military requirements of today and tomorrow in an ever-changing, complex and controversial world.
Never forgetting that these were very turbulent times for our men and women in uniform and their families, Gates ensured that our soldiers, marines, sailors and airmen received the best training and were equipped with the best technologies – both in arms and equipment – to make our armed forces the best in the world.
Gates retired as defense secretary on July 1, 2011, and in September accepted the position of chancellor of his alma mater, the College of William and Mary where he succeeded Justice Sandra Day O’Connor.
For his service to the nation, he has received the presidential Medal of Freedom, the Presidential Citizens Medal, the National Security Medal, the National Intelligence Distinguished Medal (two awards), the Distinguished Intelligence Medal (three awards) and the Sylvanus Thayer Award from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.
"Secretary Gates’ unparalleled accomplishments and his extraordinary career in intelligence, national defense, and as an educator, author and scholar, exemplify the tradition of soldier-statesman General George Catlett Marshall, and make him truly deserving of the Marshall Medal.
“We at AUSA are proud and honored to recognize him as the great American he is," Sullivan said.