"We've got a pretty young squad here and there is nothing stopping these players selected today holding onto their jerseys right the way up to the next World Cup, even if Martyn doesn't make it that far," said Gatland.
"These are the players in possession now and if they are successful then their destiny is in their own hands.
"We have had to mix the short term and the long term view and Martyn in particular is covering a specialist position.
"I talked to him this weekend and told him we wanted to select him and he took a couple of days to think it over. We have some good youngsters coming through, but the likes of Robin Sowden-Taylor are only going to benefit from having Martyn around at the moment. We feel he still has a lot to offer and we are delighted he has accepted the invitation to play for his country again.
"We have gone for Ryan Jones as captain and he is back, fit again and playing well. His ability is unquestionable on the pitch and he has the necessary experience to fill the captaincy role.
"I don't mind admitting we looked at a number of players for the role and Jonathan Thomas in particular is someone who stands out as a key leader and a possible captain for the future, as does his Ospreys colleague Alun Wyn Jones.
"The likes of Stephen Jones and Dwayne Peel will also be important leaders for us, but the competition for places in their positions probably ruled them out of that particular race at this time."
Blues' youngster Jamie Roberts is the only uncapped player in the squad and is joined by his regional colleague Tom James as youth is given its day with veteran campaigners Gareth Thomas and Kevin Morgan missing out.
Speaking at the Cardiff Blues training centre Jamie Roberts said,
"I'm over the moon just to be in the squad. Obviously there's a long way to go to get into the twenty two and then into the starting fifteen but I'm delighted."
"I'm really pleased with the way things have gone with the Blues this season. Playing alongside quality players such as Ben Blair, Tom Shanklin and Gareth Thomas has given me a real boost."
The Scarlets' half-back pairing of Jones and Peel feature as do Ospreys' duo James Hook and Mike Phillips, with Gareth Cooper filling the final scrum half berth.
In the midfield Gavin Henson, Osprey Sonny Parker and the Blues' Tom Shanklin are the candidates while on the wings Shane Williams (Ospreys) and Mark Jones (Scarlets) will look to provide Gatland with his cutting edge alongside fullback Lee Byrne.
Up front props Adam and Duncan Jones and Rhys Thomas join hookers Huw Bennett and Matthew Rees and elsewhere in the front five Ian Gough, Alun Wyn Jones, Ian Evans, Jonathan Thomas all retain their places from the World Cup campaign.
In the back row Alix Popham is joined by Gareth Delve who returns from injury in a bid to add to his four caps as another veteran Colin Charvis, the world's top Test try-scoring forward, fails to make the cut. Williams and Sowden-Taylor join their captain Jones in the back row.
Backs: Lee Byrne, Jamie Roberts, Tom James, Mark Jones, Shane Williams, Tom Shanklin, Sonny Parker, Gavin Henson, James Hook, Stephen Jones, Dwayne Peel, Mike Phillips, Gareth Cooper
Forwards: Gethin Jenkins, Adam Jones, Duncan Jones, Rhys Thomas, Huw Bennett, Matthew Rees, Ian Evans, Ian Gough, Alun-Wyn Jones, Jonathan Thomas, Martyn Williams, Robin Sowden-Taylor, Gareth Delve, Alix Popham, Ryan Jones (Captain)
WALES RBS 6 NATIONS SQUAD 2008
Lee BYRNE (OSPREYS - Cap No 1,041), Fullback
DoB: 01.06.80. 6'3" / 1.91m. 15st 4lbs / 97kgs
International record: 14 caps (W 3, L 10, D 1; 10 pts - 2T)
Jamie ROBERTS (CARDIFF BLUES - Uncapped), Fullback
DoB: 08.11.86. 6'4" / 1.93m. 14st 13lbs / 95kgs
International record: Uncapped
Shane WILLIAMS (OSPREYS - Cap No 976), Wing
DoB: 26.02.77. 5'7" / 1.71m. 12st 13lbs / 82kgs
International record: 51 caps (W 24, L 25, D 2; 175 pts - 35T)
Tom JAMES (CARDIFF BLUES - Cap No 1,055), Wing
DoB: 17.04.87. 6'2" / 1.88m. 15st 1lb / 96kgs
International record: 2 caps (L 2)
Mark JONES (LLANELLI SCARLETS - Cap No 984), Wing
DoB: 07.11.79. 6'2" / 1.88m. 14st 5lbs / 91kgs
International record: 35 caps (W 13, L 20, D 2; 60 pts - 12T)
Tom SHANKLIN (CARDIFF BLUES - Cap No 993), Centre
DoB: 24.11.79. 6'2" / 1.88m. 15st 9lbs / 99kgs
International record: 47 caps (W 20, L 26, D 1; 85 pts - 17T)
Sonny PARKER (OSPREYS - Cap No 1,007), Centre
DoB: 27.08.77. 6'1" 1.86m. 15st 13lbs / 101kgs
International record: 27 caps (W 12, L 15; 30 pts - 6T)
Gavin HENSON (OSPREYS - Cap No 990), Centre
DoB: 01.02.82. 6'0" / 1.83m. 15st 7lbs / 98kgs
International record: 23 caps (W 11, L 11, D 1; 130 pts - 3T,29C,18PG,1DG)
James HOOK (OSPREYS - Cap No 1,047), Fly-half
DoB: 27.06.85. 6'0" / 1.83m. 14st 3lbs / 90kgs
International record: 20 caps (W 6, L 13, D 1; 138 pts - 5T,25C,19PG,2DG)
Stephen JONES (LLANELLI SCARLETS - Cap No 966), Fly-half
DoB: 08.12.77. 6'1" / 1.86m. 14st 12lbs / 94kgs
International record: 66 caps (W28, L36, D2; 569 pts - 6T,106C,106PG,3DG)
Dwayne PEEL (LLANELLI SCARLETS - Cap No 994), Scrum-half
DoB: 31.08.81. 5'9" / 1.76m. 13st 8lbs / 86kgs
International record: 59 caps (W 25, L 32, D 2; 25 pts - 5T)
Michael PHILLIPS (OSPREYS - Cap No 1,022), Scrum-half
DoB: 29.08.82. 6'3" / 1.91m. 16st 6lbs / 104kgs
International record: 28 caps (W 12, L 15, D 1; 15 pts - 3T)
Gareth COOPER (GLOUCESTER RUGBY - Cap No 985), Scrum-half
DoB: 07.05.79. 5'7" / 1.71m. 13st 6lbs / 85kgs
International record: 35 caps (W 17, L 18; 35 pts - 7T)
Huw BENNETT (OSPREYS - Cap No 1,017), Hooker
DoB: 11.06.83. 6'0" / 1.83m. 16st 12lbs / 107kgs
International record: 14 caps (W 7, L 7)
Matthew REES (LLANELLI SCARLETS - Cap No 1,033), Hooker
DoB: 09.12.80. 6'0" / 1.83m. 16st 9lbs / 106kgs
International record: 16 caps (W 5, L 10, D 1; 10 pts - 2T)
Rhys THOMAS (NEWPORT GWENT DRAGONS - Cap No 1,049), Prop
DoB: 31.07.82. 82. 6'1" / 1.86m. 17st 6lbs / 111kgs
International record: 3 caps (L 3)
Gethin JENKINS (CARDIFF BLUES - Cap No 1,006), Prop
DoB: 17.11.80. 6'2" / 1.88m. 18st 9lbs / 118kgs
International record: 53 caps (W 20, L 31, D 2; 15 pts - 3T)
Adam Rhys JONES (OSPREYS - Cap No 1,018), Prop
DoB: 08.03.81. 6'0" / 1.83m. 20st 5lb / 129kgs
International record: 44 caps (W 22, L 20, D 2; 5 pts - 1T)
Duncan JONES (OSPREYS - Cap No 997)
DoB: 18.09.78. 6'0" / 1.83m. 17st 6lbs / 111kgs
International record: 45 caps (W 18, L 25, D 2)
Ian EVANS (OSPREYS - Cap No 1,045), Lock
DoB: 04.10.84. 6'8" / 2.04m. 18st 3lbs / 116kgs
International record: 8 caps (W 2, L 5, D 1; 5 pts - 1T)
Ian GOUGH (OSPREYS - Cap No 964), Lock
DoB: 10.11.76. 6' 6" / 1.98m. 18st 13lbs / 120kgs
International record: 45 caps (W 18, L 24, D 3; 5 pts - 1T)
Alun-Wyn JONES (OSPREYS - Cap No 1,046), Lock/Back Row
DoB: 19.09.85. 6'5" / 1.96m. 18st 9lbs / 118kgs
International record: 18 caps (W 6, L 12; 15 pts - 3T)
Jonathan THOMAS (OSPREYS - Cap No 1,013) Lock/Back Row
DoB: 27.12.82. 6'5" / 1.96m. 17st 5lbs / 110kgs
International record: 39 caps (W 17, L 20, D 2; 35 pts - 7T)
Robin SOWDEN-TAYLOR (CARDIFF BLUES - Cap No 1,032) Back Row
DoB: 09.06.82. 6'1" / 1.86m. 15st 5lbs / 98kgs
International record: 5 caps (W 2, L 3)
Martyn WILLIAMS (CARDIFF BLUES)
DoB: 01.09.75. 6'0" / 1.83m. 15st 13lbs / 101kgs
International record: 76 caps (W 33, L 40, D 3; 68 pts - 13T, 1DG)
Alix POPHAM (LLANELLI SCARLETS - Cap No 1,014) Back Row
DoB: 17.10.79. 6'2" / 1.88m. 17st 4lbs / 110kgs
International record: 32 caps (W 12, L 19, D 1; 20 pts - 4T)
Gareth DELVE (GLOUCESTER RUGBY - Cap No 1,043)
DoB: 30.12.82. 6'3". 17st 13lbs
International record: 4 caps (W 1, L 3; 5 pts - 1T)
Ryan JONES (CAPTAIN, OSPREYS - Cap No 1,029) Back Row
DoB: 13.03.81. 6'5" / 1.96m. 18st 0lbs / 114kgs
International record: 16 caps (W 8, L 7, D 1; 5 pts - 1T)