March 16th, 2009
02:12 PM ET
14 years ago

Gates will not attend NATO meeting with Obama

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption=" U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates has repeatedly said there will be many tough decisions to be made in this budget on weapons programs."]WASHINGTON (CNN) – U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates will not attend next months NATO Summit with President Obama in order to focus on the defense budget, according to Pentagon officials.

"Secretary Gates will remain in Washington to keep working on what is being called a "very difficult budget," this year, Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said.

The summit involves leaders of NATO member countries, but defense ministers often attend for behind-the scenes discussions.

"He had hoped to join President Obama in Strasbourg and Kehl to celebrate the alliance's 60th anniversary, but his work on the 2010 budget will not permit him to leave Washington then," another Pentagon spokesman, Geoff Morrell, said in a statement. "He simply needs more time to review all of our major weapons programs and assess how they fit into his efforts to strategically rebalance the department's budget."

Gates has repeatedly said there will be many tough decisions to be made in this budget on weapons programs. High-profile, and pricey, programs Gates will have to weigh whether to keep or to cut include the Air Force's F-22 "Raptor" fighter, the Army's $160 billion Future Combat System program and the over-budget and delayed new presidential helicopter program.

Asked why Gates would be skipping a NATO meeting where most ministers of defense will join their heads of state, Whitman said the Secretary believed there was very good U.S. representation in President Obama.

Filed under: NATO • President Obama • Robert Gates
soundoff (8 Responses)
  1. Griff............... on The Truth...

    You would be more out, than in. If you did. So much better to just, stand-down..

    March 16, 2009 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  2. Get Well Soon GOP

    Why can't he work from the road. This is the computer age. He can get access to his workstation from anyplace. Something is up.

    March 16, 2009 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  3. demwit

    Still reeling from those HUGE defence cuts hey Robert!? We don't need all those expensive war toys anyways!!!!

    March 16, 2009 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  4. btldriver

    Let me get this straight. Obama will spend almost a trillion dollars on non-military stuff to try and create jobs but wants to restrict what the military spends?

    March 16, 2009 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  5. Rob Kole

    You have got to be kidding me! We are alraedy trillions of dollars in debt and our secretary of defense is going to stay home and balance the checkbook instead of going to a summit where he can work with his counterparts around the world? People who's help we will need to stablize the middle east?

    Sounds like Obama wants the spotlight on him and him only.

    March 16, 2009 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  6. demwit

    Yeah!! America is well represented with Obama as our defence minister!!!!

    March 16, 2009 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  7. Michael "C" Lorton, Virginia

    Tough times and tough decisions-–let's all hope they are "wise ones."

    March 16, 2009 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  8. TerryT

    So the expert in defense will not attend but the President who isn't will??

    Be careful Mr President you will not find many of those who voted for you at that meeting.

    Blaming bush might not work so well there.

    Just another example of the incompetence of your administration.
    Just another example of you you feel you have to do something better than Pres Bush? (can't have Pres Bush be considered better at being a joke of a Pres can you?)

    Haven't we been through enough Mr. President?

    March 16, 2009 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |