Image: U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates
Mark Wilson  /  Getty Images file
U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates.
updated 6/10/2008 7:07:05 PM ET 2008-06-10T23:07:05

Pentagon chief Robert Gates is taking immediate steps to prepare for the first wartime transition of U.S. administrations since 1968 when a conflicted America was at war in Vietnam.

Gates told reporters traveling with him to Washington from Scott Air Force Base in Illinois that he believes the process of getting key Pentagon officers confirmed by Congress during changes of administrations is too slow. And he said he wants to do what is possible now to speed up the process this time.

Gates said he has asked an advisory panel to recommend steps he can take to ensure that the next secretary of defense is ready to deal with the most pressing national security issues from Day One.

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