US Defence Secretary Robert Gates has said he plans to step down next year in order to ease the process of choosing his successor, dpa reported
Gates, in an interview with Foreign Policy magazine published Monday, said Washington should have an understanding of how the troop surge in Afghanistan is working and that it would be a good time to depart from the post.
Gates, 67, said he also wanted to avoid having a situation where his successor is chosen in an election year. President Barack Obama is up for re-election in 2012.
"I think that it would be a mistake to wait until January 2012," he told FP. "This is not the kind of job you want to fill in the spring of an election year."
Gates took over the post in 2006 after predecessor Donald Rumsfeld resigned. Gates oversaw then-president George W Bush's troop surge in Iraq and is widely credited with taking a balanced approach to the job.
He is the only person to remain defence secretary under a new administration. Gates has served in government for decades and spent 27 years in the CIA. He was president of Texas A&M University before accepting Bush's offer to lead the Pentagon.