Obama set to shuffle national security team
From left to right: CIA Director Leon Panetta, Secretary of State Bob Gates, General David Petraeus.
At a time when America is continuing to scale down its involvement in Iraq, working to show substantial improvement in Afghanistan, and trying to complete its objectives in Libya, the Obama administration is set to announce a new lineup for its national security team. The President is planning to announce his nomination of CIA Director Leon Panetta to replace Secretary of Defense Robert Gates tomorrow, with confirmation hearings to follow soon after Gates steps down, according to Fox News:
A U.S. official who confirmed Panetta's move to the Pentagon said the White House chose him because of his long experience in Washington, including working with budgets at the intelligence agency, as well as his extensive experience in the field during his time as CIA director.
Gates' departure from the Pentagon will also shake up other high-profile positions on the administration's national security team. General David Petraeus, current US and NATO Commander in Afghanistan, will be tapped to replace Panetta as Director of the CIA. This move is not surprising, as Petraeus indicated to the press that he may be in contention for an Obama administration position. From CNN:
Petraeus, earlier this month, took a highly unusual step for a military officer when he publicly acknowledged the possibility of being in contention for a presidential appointment. "It's probably not appropriate for me to comment on whatever might be considered down the road," he told reporters in Kabul when asked about the possible CIA nomination. "I've had discussions, but again, it wouldn't be appropriate to comment."
Replacing Petraeus as commander in Afghanistan will be Lieutenant General John Allen, current Deputy Commander of US Central Command. The selection of Allen, who has never served in Afghanistan, has many scratching their heads, given the critical point in the war as the US plans for a gradual withdrawal of forces by 2014.
On the diplomatic aisle, former ambassador to Iraq and Pakistan Ryan Crocker is said to be the only person being considered to replace Karl Eikenberry as ambassador to Afghanistan. From ABC:
There is no set time limit for the ambassadorial job, but Eikenberry has told friends and others he is not likely to stay for a third year. He marks two years in the job this month. The White House began considering possible replacements several months ago, with an eye to Senate confirmation before summer.