Defense Secretary Robert Gates tells Foreign Policy magazine that he'll step down sometime before January 2012, but says he'll be sticking around until we "know whether the strategy is working in Afghanistan"
The point of all of that is I think that by next year I'll be in a position where, you know, we're going to know whether the strategy is working in Afghanistan. We'll have completed the surge. We'll have done the assessment in December. And it seems like somewhere there in 2011 is a logical opportunity to hand off.
I think that it would be a mistake to wait until January 2012. First of all, I think we might have trouble getting the kind of person they want if there's a possibility that they might only be in the job for a year. You know, who knows what the election situation will look like. But also I just think this is not the kind of job you want to fill in the spring of a presidential election. So I think sometime in 2011 sounds pretty good.
In other words, it seems that Gates will be there until the debate over the proposed July 2011 timetable to begin withdrawal is settled.