U.S. President-elect Barack Obama is inclined to keep Robert Gates as defense secretary for another year, Obama's aides said Tuesday, reported Xinhua.
Meanwhile, Gates will likely accept the offer if it is made, the Wall Street Journal quoted an aide to the secretary as saying.
However, Obama's aides also said no final decision has been made, as other people are also under serious consideration for the top Pentagon job.
Several prominent Democrats, including Richard Danzig, former President Bill Clinton's navy secretary and John Hamre, Clinton's former deputy defense secretary, are also being considered.
The decision on retaining Gates will be the clearest indication to date of the incoming administration's thinking about Iraq and Afghanistan.
Like the president-elect, Gates supports deploying more troops to Afghanistan.
But the defense secretary strongly opposes a firm timetable for withdrawing American forces from Iraq, therefore, some analysts said his appointment could mean that Obama was effectively shelving his campaign promise to remove most troops from Iraq by mid-2010.
Speculation that Gates would remain in the job increased over the weekend when Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid endorsed the idea in a CNN interview.
"Why wouldn't we want to keep him?" Reid said. "He's never been a registered Republican."
Gates took over the Pentagon in late 2006 after Bush ousted then-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld over his management of the Iraq war.
U.S. commanders in Iraq had been unable to prevent the country from slipping into civil war, and American and Iraqi casualties were soaring.
As the new defense chief, Gates worked to repair the Pentagon's frayed ties with Capitol Hill.
He also reshaped the U.S. war effort in Iraq, appointing David Petraeus to lead the military campaign and overseeing the deployment of 30,000 additional combat troops as part of a shift to a new counterinsurgency approach there.