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Gates to Step Down in 2011: Defense Secretary Robert Gates says he will step down from his post next year. "I think sometime in 2011 sounds pretty good," Gates told Foreign Policy in an interview published Monday. His move could come as early as January 2011 or it could be much later in the year, he said. But waiting until 2012 would be too long because it would likely be more difficult for the White House to find and seat his successor due to the charged political climate of a Presidential election year. Gates, the 22nd Defense Secretary, replaced Donald Rumsfeld in December 2006. Come January, he will have been in the post longer than all but four former Defense Secretaries: Robert McNamara, Rumsfeld, Caspar Weinberger, and Charles Wilson. (Gates biography)