US & Canada

Ex-Pentagon chief Robert Gates to lead Boy Scouts

Former US Defence Secretary Robert Gates appeared at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies in Washington on 22 October 2013
Image caption Gates was an Eagle Scout in his youth

Former US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has been chosen to lead the Boy Scouts of America, the group has said.

Mr Gates, who was Pentagon chief under Presidents George Bush and Barack Obama and also led the CIA, has a long history with the Boy Scouts, attaining the rank of Eagle Scout as a young man.

If approved by a vote of the group's national council, he will be president for two years beginning in May.

The Boy Scouts count nearly 2.6 million members and one million volunteers.

"There is no finer program for preparing American boys for citizenship and leadership than the Boy Scouts of America," Mr Gates wrote in a statement released by the Boy Scouts.

"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 honoured to take on this role."

Mr Gates joined the CIA in 1966 and served as the agency's director from 1991-93. He subsequently served as president of Texas A&M University before being sworn in as US secretary of defense in 2006, serving in that role until 2011.

The Boy Scouts voted in May to lift a ban on gay scouts, though it preserved a ban on gay scout leaders.

During his tenure as defence secretary, Mr Gates led the defence department through the repeal of a ban on gays openly serving in the military, known as the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy.

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