Gates piled up miles as wartime Pentagon chief

By ROBERT BURNS | June 7, 2011 | 11:58 AM EDT

BRUSSELS (AP) — Robert Gates' days as defense secretary are numbered, but before he goes, consider this one: 646,094.

That's the number of miles he has traveled outside the U.S. in 4½ years while leading the Pentagon, according to his official travel logs.

He'll add to his total by about 21,500 miles when he completes his current trip, an 11-day round-the-world finale whose last stop is Brussels to attend NATO meetings.

Gates is retiring at the end of June.

The 1,400-plus hours he has spent in the air to show the Pentagon flag abroad is the equivalent of 58 days. Most of that time was aboard a modified Boeing 747 equipped to serve as an airborne command post in the event of a nuclear war.

In all, Gates has visited 104 countries.