Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff, in November of 2013. Paul J. Richards /AFP/Getty Images hide caption

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Robert Gates in June 2011 during his final official news conference as secretary of defense. Jason Reed /Reuters/Landov hide caption

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The Two-Way

Gates Says He Wept Each Evening Over Troops' Deaths

The former secretary of defense also tells NPR that he fears extended tours of duty in war zones contributed to a rise in suicides among military personnel.

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Robert Gates in June 2011, his last month as secretary of defense. Alex Brandon/AP hide caption

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Robert Gates waves and President Obama claps at the then-defense secretary's farewell ceremony in June 2011. Jason Reed/Reuters /Landov hide caption

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