Gates also said he will recommend more troops for Afghanistan if his commanders requested it, adding that it is important to take the initiative in dealing with security threats.
Gates made the remarks after talks with Afghan President Hamid Karzai in Kabul.
Earlier in the day, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, General Karl Eikenberry, said he had recommended extending a U.S. infantry battalion and pressed for more NATO troops amid indications of a Taliban offensive in the spring.
Kabul and Islamabad have waged a lengthy war of words over mutual responsibility for terrorism and insurgency violence in Afghanistan.
Meanwhile, Pakistani helicopters destroyed an alleged hideout of "terrorists and their facilitators" in tribal areas near the Afghan border. Ten people were reported killed and the same number injured in the attack.
40 Truckloads Of 'Taliban' Weapons
Also today, the Afghan military says its forces have uncovered 40 pick-up truckloads of weapons.
General Sami-Ul Haq told said today that the weapons, believed to belong to Taliban insurgents, were hidden in mountain caves near the border with Pakistan.
The cache included machine guns, rockets, and explosives, and was found this week in eastern Paktika
Province's Gomal district, some 40 kilometers from the Pakistani border.
(compiled from agency reports)