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Robert M. Gates

2011 Thayer Award Recipient Citation

In a distinguished career of service spanning more than four decades, Robert M. Gates has exemplified the tenets of Duty, Honor, Country--ideals of West Point that have characterized his extraordinary contributions to the security and welfare of our nation.  From his early service in the Central Intelligence Agency and commissioning as a second lieutenant in the United States Air Force through his completion of more than four years as our nation’s 22nd Secretary of Defense, Secretary Gates has compiled a record of unfailing dedication to furthering the cause of American freedom and defending it against threats.

A native of the State of Kansas with degrees from The College of William and Mary, Indiana University, and Georgetown University, Dr. Gates served on active duty from 1967 to 1969 as an intelligence officer with the Strategic Air Command at Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri. Nearly three decades as an intelligence professional followed, including assignments as Deputy Director of Central Intelligence from 1986 until 1989 and as Assistant to the President and Deputy National Security Adviser at the White House from 1989 until 1991.  During this period, he spent nearly nine years at the National Security Council, The White House, serving four Presidents representing two political parties.  As Director of Central Intelligence from 1991 to 1993, Secretary Gates was the only CIA director to have risen to Director from an entry-level position in the agency.

Four years as President of Texas A & M University preceded Dr. Gates’s assuming office as our nation’s Secretary of Defense in 2006.  In that position, Robert Gates directed our nation’s prosecution of the global war on terrorism, overseeing large-scale counterinsurgency operations in Iraq while combating terrorism through operations in Afghanistan and elsewhere around the globe.  Serving under Presidents Bush and Obama, Secretary Gates was known for providing commanders the resources required to defeat the enemy and protect their soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines.   Throughout, he served as a tireless advocate for Soldier care and fiscal accountability.

A recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom and many other high awards, Robert M. Gates is a most worthy recipient of West Point’s highest award.  Accordingly, it is with great pride that the West Point Association of Graduates presents the Thayer Award for 2011 to Dr. Robert M. Gates.