Gates Prepares for Senate Confirmation Hearings

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WASHINGTON (AP) - Robert Gates -- President Bush's choice to replace Donald H. Rumsfeld as defense secretary -- may bring more
of a change in style than substance to the Pentagon and the fractious debate over Iraq.

That's judging from his statements and the assessment of associates.

Fritz Ermarth -- a former C-I-A official who worked with Gates at the spy agency over a 20-year period, says "He stands his ground on argument and data and facts, but he does not have a confrontational personality like Rumsfeld does."

Bush announced on November 8 -- one day after voters thrust Democrats back in control of the House and Senate -- that he decided Gates should succeed Rumsfeld to provide "fresh perspective" on the war.

Like Rumsfeld, Gates sees timely intelligence as central to winning the fight against terrorism, favors pushing NATO allies to spend more on defense and views with suspicion China's military buildup.

Unlike Rumsfeld, Gates has no prior Pentagon experience; Rumsfeld was defense secretary in the mid-1970s.

Gates left Washington in 1993 and since August 2002 has been
president of Texas A&M University.

At his Senate confirmation hearing Tuesday, Gates is expected to
be questioned in detail on the Iraq war.