Defense Secretary Robert Gates says he will be stepping down from his cabinet post in 2011.
Gates told Foreign Policy that he would retire with his wife in the Pacific Northwest, a plan they initially had for the end of the Bush administration until President Barack Obama asked him to stay in his position. Gates said it would be a mistake to wait to retire too close to the 2012 presidential election.
This is not the kind of job you want to fill in the spring of an election year," he said.
Gates, 66, has served for each president since Richard Nixon except for Bill Clinton in some capacity. If he stays through at least January 2011, he will have had the job longer than all but four (Robert McNamara, Donald Rumsfeld, Cap Weinberger, and Charles E. Wilson) of his 22 predecessors, since the Defense secretary position was created in 1947.
Gates is currently at the helm of the Pentagon as the U.S. military looks to discontinue its "don't ask, don't tell" policy, which bars gays and lesbians from openly serving.