Obama 'Appreciates' Secretary Gates, White House Says

Jay Carney responds to comments made in the former defense secretary's new memoir.
3:00 | 01/08/14

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Transcript for Obama 'Appreciates' Secretary Gates, White House Says
-- heads up to excuse the White House. What we knew Secretary Gates is writing a book -- everybody I think that are most people did but we receive the book last. Night. -- -- -- -- refueling and fluid flow conversations confidential conversations he had. The president in his other top national security advisor. Here's what I would say. Anybody who has the privilege of serving. In an administration and a highway. And who participates in policy discussions and has. Confidential conversations -- Principals and presidents. And then leaves office makes a decision about how they're gonna talk or write about that experience and -- And that's everybody's decision to make for himself or herself. I would simply say that the president. -- -- Secretary Gates Robert Gates to stay on as secretary of defense and he appreciates the service. That he gave to this administration to this president. And very much valued the role he played in this administration and the advice he did. -- for other issues leave it to. Other folks to decide. Because everyone makes their own decision in that circumstance some people write books and people don't. And we're we're focused on. All the things that we need to work on Tony fourteen. -- both. National security matters domestic matters. Economic matters. Matters of providing essential. Emergency assistance to the uninsured and -- unemployed. And you know we that's. What consumes our days. His farewell -- Secretary Gates quite simply is one of the nation's finest public and Israeli opinion it's. Do these confidential information without. And judgments he's made about president vice president -- present you. Reconsider. Look back. I think -- part of that just now in terms of how. The decisions folks make when they leave administration's and that's true of this or any other previous administration. The what matters most -- the president is the service. That his top. -- give him as president and Secretary Gates. Provided. Service to this administration and previous administrations in the president's greatly appreciative of that. And you know I would I think it's important to note -- it is. You see headlines NBC. Discrete. Excerpts. Dead. Tell a story -- one story -- seemed to say one thing but since a lot of what we're talking about here has to do it. The policy review over Afghanistan Pakistan and I think it's important to remember that in -- not remember maybe some of you haven't seen this but it's been noted in some of the press reports that. Regarding that policy debate. In his book Secretary Gates said quote Obama was much criticized by conservatives and hawkish commentators for announcing that the troop surge in Afghanistan. Would begin to be drawn down in July 2011. And it all US combat troops would be withdrawn and all responsibility for security transferred to the Afghans by the end of 2014. Inside the military there was also much grumbling about the numerical limits he placed on troops. I believe Obama was right in each of these decisions. That's from the book. That Secretary Gates is. Published opinion on these matters. Were these. Substantial rich discussions absolutely because the policy was so important. And it was much reported on the time that there was. There were differing views. About how we should move forward. With our policy towards Afghanistan Pakistan. So some of the some of those disagreements are differing views the reporting here is is not that different from we've -- -- which it has some explosive statements that he has made about presences. Not some outside critics was one of his most important if not most important national security. -- I think I'd choose to -- Keep on on the Pentagon he says. -- there was a suspicion and distrust by senior senior military officers by senior White House officials including the president and the vice president. And in this became a big compliment what what what he's seen again. And I I think it is written to you again you have to take the full picture here in John and I would say went on on that matter I think an American people expect that their commander in chief. Listen to all of his -- civilian and military. When it comes to. Discussions and debates about. Matters of war and peace and and and decisions that affect. The lives of our men and women in uniform and that's how it should be. The president the vice president everyone in this building who has ever served and worked on these matters has enormous. Respect. For our men and women in uniform. And that includes all of the president's top senior military advisors. On policy issues the president absolutely. Wants. Tough questions asked. On matters. National security he wants. In these. Discussions and debates. Both his military and his civilian advisors to be blunt and candid about their views and to back up. There assessments that's what you I think would expect and want. In the kinds of discussions that. Our health and have been held in previous administrations and previous White House -- Hopefully over you know when these fateful decisions have to be made it was -- -- -- the president. Didn't believe his own Afghanistan. I I think it is absolutely. -- case has -- many have reported. Days. It is well -- the president has been committed to achieving the mission of disrupting dismantling and defeating al-Qaeda while also ensuring that we have a clear path. For winding down the war. Which will end this year I mean this is either not separate issues that the mission and the policy included those ramping up and refocusing our. Mission. On al-Qaeda. As well as making sure we had. -- policy in place that would wind down. Because. War without end. Was not what the president believe was the right policy and there were debates about this so. The president believes. Thoroughly in the mission. He knows it's difficult but he believes that our men and women in uniform as well as. Those civilians in Afghanistan and others who are working on this issue have. Admirably and heroically. To fill that mission. And they do so today.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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