Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, architect of an unpopular war in Iraq, is stepping down, President Bush announced Wednesday.
Word comes a day after big Democratic gains in the midterm elections, in which Rumsfeld was a focus of much of the criticism of the Iraq war.
Robert Gates, current Texas A&M President and former head of the CIA, will replace Rumsfeld, Mr. Bush said at a White House news conference. Administration officials notified congressional officials in advance.
Mr. Bush described Rumsfeld as a "superb leader" in a time of change, but said his defense chief recognizes the value of "fresh perspective." He said Rumsfeld is a "trusted adviser and friend," and that he's "deeply grateful" for his service to the country.
Robert Gates had this to say in his address to the nation Wednesday afternoon.
"I believe the outcome of these conflicts will shape our world for decades to come because our long term strategic interests, our national and homeland security, our risk because so many of America's sons and daughters in our armed forces are in harms way," Gates said. "I did not hesitate when the President asked me to return to duty."
Democrats have long called for Rumsfeld's resignation, reports CBS News correspondent Bob Fuss, but President Bush just before the election said he supports Rumsfeld and the way the war in Iraq was conducted and wanted him to stay.
We will have much more on this story on News 3 as the day goes on.
The following is President Gates' bio from Texas A&M University
Dr. Robert M. Gates is the 22nd President of Texas A&M University, the nation's seventh largest university and an institution recognized internationally for its teaching, research and public service. He assumed the presidency of the land-grant, sea-grant and space-grant university on August 1, 2002. Dr. Gates served as Interim Dean of the George Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M from 1999-2001.
He served as Director of Central Intelligence from 1991 until 1993. In this position, he headed all foreign intelligence agencies of the United States and directed the Central Intelligence Agency. Dr. Gates is the only career officer in CIA's history to rise from entry-level employee to Director. He served as Deputy Director of Central Intelligence from 1986 until 1989 and as Assistant to the President and Deputy National Security Adviser at The White House from January 20, 1989 until November 6, 1991 for President George H.W. Bush.
Dr. Gates joined the Central Intelligence Agency in 1966 and spent nearly 27 years as an intelligence professional, serving six presidents. During that period, he spent nearly nine years at the National Security Council, The White House, serving four presidents of both political parties.
Dr. Gates has been awarded the National Security Medal, the Presidential Citizens Medal, has twice received the National Intelligence Distinguished Service Medal, and has three times received CIA's highest award, the Distinguished Intelligence Medal.
He is the author of the memoir, From the Shadows: The Ultimate Insider's Story of Five Presidents and How They Won the Cold War, published in 1996.
Dr. Gates serves on the Board of Directors and Executive Committee of the American Council on Education, the Board of Directors of the National Association of State Universities and Land-Grant Colleges, and the National Executive Board of the Boy Scouts of America. He is President of the National Eagle Scout Association.
Dr. Gates serves as Chairman of the Independent Trustees of The Fidelity Funds, the nation's largest mutual fund company, and on the board of directors of NACCO Industries, Inc., Brinker International, Inc. and Parker Drilling Company, Inc.
A native of Kansas, Dr. Gates received his bachelor's degree from the College of William and Mary, his master's degree in history from Indiana University, and his doctorate in Russian and Soviet history from Georgetown University. Dr. Gates is 62, and he and his wife Becky have two adult children.