(CNN) - Two US military officials confirmed to CNN that the Obama national security team is scheduled for a transition meeting Monday morning. Expected in attendance: Defense Secretary Robert Gates, Admiral Michael Mullen, Secretary of State nominee Hillary Clinton, and national security advisor James Jones. Officials say topics will include security challenges the team will face upon taking office the officials say. These officials say it is safe to assume the Middle East is on the list, though neither has seen the official agenda.
A ‘tank’ meeting is also scheduled this afternoon for joint chiefs on Afghanistan strategy review, also one of the first issues facing national security team
WASHINGTON (CNN) - The military has prepared an initial plan for withdrawal from Iraq that meets the demands of the recent agreement with Iraq, but appears to contradict the wishes of President-elect Barack Obama.
Generals David Petraeus and Ray Odierno, the top commanders in Iraq, briefed Defense Secretary Robert Gates on plans for the withdrawal of the 146,000 troops in Iraq, when Gates visited the country last weekend.
In turn, Gates and Adm. Michael Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, informed Obama this week about "the way ahead in Iraq," Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell said Thursday.
That briefing was a "point of conversation" during the 5-1/2 hour national security team meeting Monday in Chicago, a senior military official said.
An Obama transition official confirmed that Mullen discussed the "current plans developed under President Bush."
Among those attending the meeting were Secretary of State nominee Hillary Clinton, Vice President-elect Joseph Biden and Gen. James Jones, Obama's choice for national security adviser.
The meeting covered a "whole range of topics," including Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and the Middle East, the transition official said.
The current withdrawal plan proposes removing all U.S. combat troops from Iraqi urban areas in 2009, and all American troops from Iraq by 2011, in keeping with the recent Status of Forces Agreement, or SOFA, signed by President Bush, according to the senior military official.
The agreement with Iraq details withdrawals for 2009, 2010 and 2011, the official said. It proposes removing troops at a slower pace than Obama promised during the campaign, when he called for all combat troops to be out within 16 months - by the summer of 2010.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - When the phone rings at 3 a.m. in the White House during a crisis, President Barack Obama won't lack for advice. But the question may be whose advice will be the loudest?
Obama's potential national security team looks like an all-star lineup: Sen. Hillary Clinton is on track, sources say, to be secretary of state; Defense Secretary Robert Gates may stay on; and retired Gen. Jim Jones is a leading candidate for national security adviser.
And according to The New York Times, retired Adm. Dennis Blair may be named as director of national intelligence. He did a tour of duty at the CIA, and his expertise is clandestine military operations.
Observers may wonder if so much high-power talent can get along.
"Are there downsides? Sure. When you have people with this much stature, there can be ego clashes," said CNN contributor David Gergen. "Everybody's ego has got to get into the same room ... and in at least one or two of those cases, I'm sure people think that their egos are big enough to fill the room all by themselves."
Clinton has applauded Gates' candor, but early on put him on notice.
"We need a strong secretary of defense - but that doesn't mean strong-headed," Clinton said during Gates' confirmation hearings in 2006.
Watch the debate over Clinton's foreign policy experience
WASHINGTON (CNN) - President-elect Barack Obama and Adm. Michael Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, held a private closed door meeting in Chicago Friday for 45 minutes, according to a U.S. military official with direct knowledge of the talks.
The meeting was a "get acquainted session," the official said.
President George Bush personally approved the meeting, and it was also "encouraged" by Defense Secretary Robert Gates, the official said. The approval was not required, but was given because of the sensitivity of the sitting president's advisers giving advice to a president not yet in office.
Obama extended the invitation to Mullen.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Defense Secretary Robert Gates has long said he wants to ensure a smooth transition at the Pentagon with the Obama administration, but it may be a while before some of the big secrets are revealed to the new team.
Gates will have his first substantive meeting with members of President-elect Barack Obama's transition team Thursday to discuss key issues the new administration will face as it comes into office.
But CNN has learned that the Obama transition team will not immediately be provided classified information on current military operations and plans, certain National Security Council matters, intelligence programs and future DOD budget plans for the time being, under the terms of a memo sent to senior DOD officials by Gates' top aide.
CNN has obtained a copy of the three-page memo, sent to all top department civilian and military officials November 19 by aide Robert Rangel.
It outlines what can and cannot be shared at this point with Obama's transition staff.
According to the memo, until there is "further guidance," there will be no disclosure of "sensitive information" in the following categories: "current military operations; special access programs; pre-decisional budget information; contingency operations/plans; personnel records; privileged and other legally protected information; competition sensitive information; and active National Security Council policy deliberations."
WASHINGTON (CNN) - In the best tradition of the CIA spymaster he once was, Defense Secretary Robert Gates is still holding his cards close on whether he has had any discussions with President-elect Obama about remaining at his post in the new administration.
Speaking tersely to CNN in a Pentagon hallway Friday, Gates said, "Nice try," when asked if he or his staff had spoken to the president-elect or his staff.
He said he had "nothing to add" to a statement he made earlier this week in which he told reporters, "I have nothing new to say on that subject."
But Gates' non-answers are a change from earlier in the year, when the idea seemed more remote.
"The circumstances under which I would do that are inconceivable to me," Gates craftily replied in an April 2008 Pentagon news briefing.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Sen. Barack Obama Tuesday received his first high level briefing as a candidate from the office of the Director of National Intelligence, according to officials at the campaign and at the DNI's office.
DNI spokesman Richard Willing said the briefings were on "topics of national security interest."
Obama was given the briefing at the FBI field office in Chicago. A team of intelligence experts from the DNI office traveled to Chicago to brief the democratic candidate on national security and intelligence issues, according to sources.
The briefing was more extensive than what he would normally get as a senator on the Foreign Relations Committee, but not as detailed as the daily briefing given to the president.
President Bush has followed the practice of previous presidents in deciding that intelligence briefings will be made available to the presidential and vice presidential candidates of both major parties, CNN has learned.
Sen. Joe Biden, Obama's running mate, has not yet received a briefing. The Republican ticket, Sen. McCain and Gov. Sarah Palin, will be able to be briefed once they are officially nominated later this week.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - CNN has learned that the Director of National Intelligence Admiral (retired) Michael McConnell is letting it be known he is willing to stay for up to six months in the next Administration to help facilitate any transition, if a new president wishes him to.
A source close to McConnell is confirming McConnell will make that offer, but that he has "no desire" to be re-appointed by the new president.
McConnell is the first senior Bush Administration national security official believed to have made such an offer.
This will be the first presidential transition since the massive reorganization of the intelligence community following the 9-11 attacks, and the first time the DNI office has been through a transition.
Administration officials say there is no specific intelligence indicating terrorists are planning an attack. But Admiral Michael Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has assembled a military team to be ready to brief a president-elect on potential vulnerabilities to attacks during the transition.