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Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates warns against downsizing military

Judy Woodruff spoke to former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates about his new book “Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War.” Video by PBS NewsHour

With extended deployments and multiple tours for U.S. troops, some people have asked whether the U.S. military should return to a draft. Former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates says the military leadership does not consider this the answer.

“If you talk to the senior military leadership, they would give you an adamant no to that question,” he told PBS NewsHour co-anchor Judy Woodruff on Tuesday. “This is the best trained, most combat hardened, most dedicated and most capable military force the United States has ever had. And one of the things that I worry about in precipitously downsizing our forces, is that we have a perfect record over the last 40 years in predicting where we will use military force next. We’ve never once gotten it right. And so given the turbulence and complexity of the world that we face, I think we ought to be very cautious about how we reduce the size of our military, including our ground forces.”

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Gates also discussed Edward Snowden, the former intelligence contractor who leaked information about the National Security Agency’s secret surveillance programs. He referred to Snowden as a “traitor” who did not work within the carefully constructed system to correct perceived wrongdoing.

He also said that imposing new sanctions on Iran would be a “terrible mistake.”

You can watch the rest of their interview on Tuesday’s broadcast.

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