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CNN Staff

(CNN) -- The Boy Scouts of America have nominated former Defense Secretary and ex-Director of the Central Intelligence Agency Robert Gates to lead the organization, according to a Wednesday news release.

If approved by the Boy Scouts' national council, the Eagle Scout will begin a two-year term as president in May. The organization, which has about 2.6 million youth members, also elected Gates to its national executive board.

"There is no finer program for preparing American boys for citizenship and leadership than the Boy Scouts of America," Gates said in a statement. "I know firsthand how impactful this program can be, and I believe its mission is more important today than ever before."

Gates has long had a relationship with the organization. He is a past president of the National Eagle Scout Association and has been awarded the Silver Buffalo Award, for service to youth, and was named to the Order of the Arrow, "the highest mark of distinction and recognition for those with exceptional service and unselfish interests," according to the Irving-based Boy Scouts organization.

Wayne Brock, chief Scout executive, said the group was honored to have Gates as president-elect.

"I believe Dr. Gates' vision and passion for scouting will continue to allow the BSA to focus on delivering the nation's foremost youth program of character development and values-based leadership training to the young people of this nation," he said in the statement.

A former Texas A&M University president, Gates has served eight White House administrations and is the only career CIA officer to serve as the agency's director.

"Gates has been awarded the National Security Medal and the Presidential Citizens Medal, has twice received the National Intelligence Distinguished Service Medal, and has three times received the CIA's highest award, the Distinguished Intelligence Medal. On his last day in office as secretary of defense, Gates was awarded the nation's highest civilian award, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, by President Obama," the Boy Scouts release said.

The Kansas native received his bachelor's degree from the College of William and Mary, where he is chancellor, his master's degree in history from Indiana University, and his doctorate in Russian and Soviet history from Georgetown University. He and his wife, Becky, have two grown children.

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