President-elect Bush has picked No. 2 CIA official Robert M. Gates as his deputy national security adviser and is nominating career intelligence analyst Richard J. Kerr to replace Gates at the spy agency.

Gates "knows the system, the critical importance of the interagency process for presidential decision-making and the details of the management of that process," Bush said Wednesday in a statement issued in Washington while he was hunting in Texas.Gates gained national attention in the spring of 1987, when President Reagan nominated him to succeed the late William J. Casey as director of central intelligence.

Furor over the Iran-Contra affair delayed Senate confirmation of the nomination, and Gates asked that his name be withdrawn in March 1987.

Gates has denied consistently that he tried to cover up the CIA role in the Iran arms deal, and he has kept a high reputation among intelligence experts on Capitol Hill.

The vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Sen. William Cohen, R-Me., said Wednesday that Gates "brings a tremendous reservoir of talent" to the National Security Council staff.

Cohen, in a statement issued through a spokeswoman, called Gates "an outstanding choice. Bob Gates is a loss for the intelligence agency and a gain for the National Security Council."