“There is no finer program for preparing American boys for citizenship and leadership than the Boy Scouts of America,” Gates said in a Boy Scouts press release. “As an Eagle Scout, I know firsthand how impactful this program can be and I believe its mission is more important today than ever before. I am honored to take on this role and look forward to working on behalf of the millions of youth and adult members who make scouting what it is today—an organization providing life-changing opportunities to today’s youth.”
If approved by the Boy Scouts’ National Council, Gates would serve a two-year term as president starting in May, the press release says.
Gates served as defense secretary from December 2006 until June 2011. During his tenure, he personally wrote letters of condolence to the families of troops killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.
When he took office, so many troops were being killed in Iraq by roadside bombs that going outside the wire was akin to playing Russian roulette. Gates decided troops needed more protection than up-armored Humvees could provide, so he marshaled the Defense Department and industry into an effort that sent thousands of Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles downrage.
“One of the things that helps me deal with the fact that I am sending them in harm’s way is that I do every damn thing I can to give them everything they need to win, and to come home safe,” he told reporters in October 2008. “That’s essentially the only way I can deal with that is knowing that I am doing everything I can to give them what they need.”