(CNN) -- After President Bush announced Wednesday that Robert Gates will replace Donald Rumsfeld as secretary of defense, we asked CNN.com readers what advice they would give to Gates. Here is a selection of your responses, some of which have been edited:
Hugh Osburn, Anderson, South Carolina
Listen to the generals and the CIA, and get people around you that are not just yes-men. And don't stifle either honest dissent or facts that may be different from what you might want to hear. Get the TRUTH!!!
J.R. Symank, Denver, Colorado
The "war" in Iraq is uncalled for and UNWINABLE. BRING OUR TROOPS HOME, and stop trying to force our way of life, values and type of government on another people!
Scott Key, Cantonment, Florida
Every loss of an American life is in vain when those in charge of decision-making drag their feet or are too weak to do what is truly necessary to get the job done. Give the military the authority to do what is necessary to get the job done. Keep in mind, every political injection into a military action weakens the military objective. Allow the military to do its job. We can deal with the politics after our sons and daughters come home.
Cmdr. Kevin Kinnebrew (Ret.), Tequesta, Florida
Our biggest screw up in Iraq (besides going there on false premises) was to reject most of Saddam's military in the New Iraq Security Forces to start with. We take the chance of involving them or we shoot them, otherwise they will turn on us as they have. Maybe it's not too late.
Jeff Hobbs, Austin, Texas
Listen to military commanders, i.e. those that have expertise in war. It was Rumsfeld's mistake not to do this. There is no way a civilian can be as accomplished at military knowledge as the top military leaders themselves.
Bill Manuel, Eastpointe, Michigan
Ask your military what they need to get the job done and LISTEN to them. Hire a Middle East PR firm or several and find out what we need to do to run things more effectively over there, to win the hearts of the Iraqis since we owe them security until they can provide it for themselves.
Nikki Jones, Fayetteville, Georgia
Listen to the professionals.
Jose Cruz, New York, New York
Can we get back to the real mission that all Americans would agree on? That would be the capture of Osama bin Laden. Forget Saddam Hussein, he had nothing to do with the attack of 9/11.
Harry Toll, Wilton, Connecticut
Increase troop levels in Iraq and Afghanistan to appropriate levels.
Get the military services re-equipped and up to manning levels needed to support US geo-political needs. For one, the Navy is too small
Improve communication between intelligence community and military, particularly with respect to Russian and Chinese trends in increasing their military postures and failure to comply with treaties. Push development of nano-weapons. Get the Ballistic Missile Defense Program back to a reliable operational status.
Chris Cameron, Efland, North Carolina
Remember not to shy away from unpopular wars. If it needs to be done, then the cost doesn't matter -- get it done. Otherwise, walk softly while you carry that big stick.
Masa Kitani, Little Neck, New York
Bring our boys and girls home Mr. Gates.
Matt Nastri, Franklin, Massachusetts
I would advise that you think for yourself, and do what's best for the country. That would be a welcome change. America is not a business, it's a country.
Jim Conn, Maple Grove, Minnesota
Demand and then expect candor from your staff. The position is not or should not be autocratic.
Barry Flanik, Brooklyn, New York
Seek out every single retired/active-duty general and flag-rank officer that was critical of Rumsfeld, listen to what they have to say, and incorporate their comments into your own agenda. Also, delve deeper into the ranks ... and find out what the guys doing the real fighting in Iraq think/want/need.
Chris Arthur, Norfolk, Virginia
Don't listen to opinions from the press on how to fight a war, unless of course they are holding a riffle and are being shot at themselves.
Ray Sotkiewicz, Seattle, Washington
Please, just be honest with America. We can take bad news. We can deal with reality. We know Iraq is a mess. We don't need "protecting," like some small child huddled scared underneath the blanket during a thunderstorm. We can be strong in the face of adversity. Please be strong with us.
Karlil Amisial, Brooklyn, New York
Be your self and serve the country with dignity, compassion and intelligence. I love this country and I look forward to seen a secure country under your watch.
Guy DeCamp, Huachuca City, Arizona
My recommendation is to [listen to] the advice and guidance of his chiefs of staff (all branches), and to his theater commanders. Respect and trust their experience and advice. If he carefully considers their wise counsel while weighing the risks involved with each military course of action, I am sure he will find it much easier to come to a decision that meets the needs of the mission and is acceptable to the administration and the American public.
Irving Glick, Ashburn, Virginia
Send more fully equipped combat units to Iraq to conduct hunt-and-destroy missions and to hold areas that are cleared. Where will the manpower and equipment come from? That's your job. Put whatever pressure is possible on Russia to support effective sanctions against Iran.
Nisar Siddiqui, Brambleton, Virginia
Mr. Defense Secretary: Learn from your predecessor's mistakes. Listen to the brass and allow them latitude. Our troops will soon be out of Iraq honorably. All the best to you.
James Norman, Midlothian, Virginia
Take the gloves off and fight. We are not cops in a foreign nation. We are military and we need to fight with everything we have. We need to lock Iraq down and let people earn rights. Get a history book from World War II. Please take the gloves off and let's win this. Winning hearts and minds never works. It's killing bad guys and their support faster than they kill ours. Very simple.