U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) met today in his Washington office with U.S. Department of Defense Secretary Nominee Robert Gates to discuss the war in Iraq, jobs, and defense-related issues in Tennessee.
“Tens of thousands of Tennesseans have served and are serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, and Bob Gates nomination offers an opportunity for fresh thinking and the clear mission that our country and those serving there deserve,” Alexander said following the meeting.
“As Secretary, he will also play a key role in helping our country keep its brainpower advantage by increasing research and improving education,” Alexander added. Dr. Gates was a member of the Augustine Commission which was formed at Sen. Alexander’s request by the National Academies to determine what actions we need to take to keep our advantage in the global economy. The commission’s report led to legislation coauthored by Sen. Alexander that has broad bipartisan support in the Senate.
“I asked Dr. Gates to remember our commitments to the National Guard and reminded him of the important role that so many Tennessee guardsmen have played not only in Iraq and Afghanistan but also in the wake of Hurricane Katrina,” Alexander said.
The Senator urged Dr. Gates to fulfill outgoing Defense Sec. Donald Rumsfeld’s commitment to assign a new flying mission to the 118th Airlift Wing of the Tennessee Air National Guard in Nashville. The Pentagon previously announced that a new Joint Cargo Aircraft (JCA) mission is well suited to be located in Nashville. The Senator also asked Gates to insure that National Guard units are reequipped since many, like the 278th in Tennessee, have depleted equipment through use in combat or left equipment behind in Iraq for those units that relieve them.
“Dr. Gates is an extraordinarily good appointment. He has the maturity and experience to be an independent voice and wise counselor on the difficult situation in Iraq,” Alexander said.