His choice of Gates, Clinton, and Jones reflects his goal of building a bipartisan cabinet.
The new national security team President-elect Obama is assembling reflects both caution and political pluck as the commander-in-chief-to-be leans on a Bush holdover as Defense secretary to ease the US out of Iraq and a Washington-savvy retired general to oversee national security matters.
In Secretary Gates, Obama chooses a Defense secretary popular with both parties who will temper his ambitious campaign pledge to get out of Iraq in 16 months. The choice of Mr. Jones, a retired Marine general with deep Washington roots, will help Obama to establish his own national security identity in a town wary of his military inexperience.
The two were formally introduced by Obama Monday along with Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton as his new secretary of State and Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano as Homeland Security chief, among other new members of his cabinet.
In making his choices, Obama said he sought foreign policy pragmatists who may not agree with one another but who “share a core vision.”
He also claimed to prize vigorous debate over “groupthink.”
“I am a strong believer in strong personalities and strong decisionmaking,” Obama said Monday.
Obama was widely expected to retain Gates, a one-time war protester and registered Independent respected among Democrats and Republicans. The Defense secretary, who will not need to be confirmed by the Senate, has long been concerned about continuity at the Pentagon in the first wartime transition in 40 years.