From my personal experience, i do believe Gates was riding herd over DOD activities out of sense of duty because of - in spite of - the current administration.
But the author is correct to identify the Realists relation ship with Obama because Obama campaigned on Realist foreign policies against McCain who campaigned on NeoCon foreign policies.
And thru-out 09 and 10, Obama has faithfully followed the Realists. It has only been in 2011 that Obama has drifted towards Liberal Interventionist policies.
Many GOPers and freepers mistakingly take great glee when the NeoCons criticize Obama's forign policies but they ought to be listening to complaints from Kissinger, Brzezenski, Scowcroft, and other prominent Realists.
The reality is that Obama, like all dem presidents, has a foreign policy team composed of Realists and Liberal Interventionists. And as is most often the case, Obama has a Liberal Interventionist as Sec of State(Hillary), a Realist as NSA(first Gen Jones replaced by Donolon), and a Realist as SecDef(Republican Realist Gates who will be replaced by Dem Realist Panetta).