By Paul Bedard, Washington Whispers
Initial speculation that Defense Secretary Robert Gates would remain at the Pentagon for about a year and a half, or until the Iraq troop withdrawal was well under way, is yielding to new expectations that he will be there for years, possibly to the end of President Obama's first term in office. Gates, former President Bush's defense secretary, was asked to stay on by Obama, in part for continuity and because Congress and the military respect him. Gates had broadcast his strong desire to return to the Seattle area, but he bowed to Obama's wishes. Now, insiders say that Gates has cut a broad agenda to redo the military, review the budget, and shift the war focus from Iraq to Afghanistan, and he'd like to stay long enough to see it through. "He could be here the full four years," says an associate. "He and the president have really hit it off."