News / USA

    Obama Announces Cabinet, Afghanistan Changes

    President Barack Obama, flanked by outgoing Defense Secretary Robert Gates (l) and Defense Secretary-nominee Leon Panetta, April 28. 2011
    President Barack Obama, flanked by outgoing Defense Secretary Robert Gates (l) and Defense Secretary-nominee Leon Panetta, April 28. 2011

    President Barack Obama on Thursday formally announced leadership changes for the Department of Defense, CIA, and command of U.S. military operations in Afghanistan.  Mr. Obama said the choices will help the United States confront ongoing challenges to its security.

    In moving CIA chief Leon Panetta to the Pentagon by July, and switching Afghanistan commander Army General David Petraeus to the CIA, President Obama says he is confident they will bring continuity and efficient management to major military objectives.

    Related video report by Carolyn Presutti


    These include the war in Afghanistan and what Obama said must be "steadfast" efforts against al-Qaida as well as the process of withdrawing remaining U.S. troops from Iraq by the end of the year.  

    At the Pentagon, Panetta will have to carry out President Obama's objective of trimming $400 billion in spending from a huge defense budget.   

    General Petraeus will bring to the CIA counter-terrorism strategies and respect he gained leading operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.  He will pass on his command responsibilities for U.S. military forces in Afghanistan to Marine Corps Lieutenant General John Allen.

    In the White House East Room, President Obama said he believes he has picked the right team at a challenging time.

    "Given the pivotal period that we are entering, I felt it was absolutely critical that we had this team in place so that we can stay focused on our missions, maintain our momentum, and keep our nation secure," said President Obama.

    In Afghanistan, General Allen will work with veteran diplomat Ryan Crocker, nominated as the new U.S. ambassador in Kabul, to implement President Obama's and NATO's road map, which involves a U.S. troop drawdown beginning in July and a full transition of security to Afghan government forces by 2014.

    President Obama praised outgoing Defense Secretary Robert Gates as someone who helped wind down the war in Iraq while challenging "conventional thinking" about the military.

    Gates, the only holdover from the cabinet of former President George W. Bush, outlined what he saw as his main responsibility as defense secretary.

    "My highest priority, from my first day in office, has been to do everything I could for our uniformed men and women in harm's way - to help them accomplish their mission, to come home safely and, if wounded, to get them the best possible care from battlefield to home front," said Robert Gates.

    Panetta praised the employees of the CIA and their work, and spoke about what he called "a time of historic change" for the United States.

    "Today, we are a nation at war and job one will be to ensure that we remain the strongest military power in the world, to protect that security that is so important to this country," said Leon Panetta.

    Panetta referred to what he called "a time for hard choices" demanding that "we be strong and disciplined in applying our nation's limited resources," a reference to spending reduction challenges ahead.

    President Obama said General Petraeus's knowledge of the Middle East and Afghanistan uniquely qualify him to lead the CIA in its effort to defeat al-Qaida, adding that Petraeus understands the importance of sharing and coordinating information.  

    General Petraeus praised what he called the "quiet professionals" of the CIA, saying he had seen their expertise, commitment and courage.

    Petraeus, who returns to Afghanistan on Friday to prepare the transition to his successor, said he is optimistic that the new national security team will be able to deal with the challenges ahead.

    "As I return to Afghanistan tomorrow, I will do so with a sense of guarded optimism about the trajectory of the mission and the exceptional civil-military team the president will nominate to lead that effort," said General Petraeus.

    Lieutenant General Allen said he was "mindful" of the significance of the responsibility of leading U.S. military operations in Afghanistan.

    Ambassador Crocker spoke about the U.S. mission there:

    "The challenges are formidable and the stakes are high," said Ambassador Crocker. "9/11 [the September 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States] came to us out of Afghanistan.  Our enemy must never again have that opportunity."

    In his remarks, President Obama said the challenges facing his new team include ensuring that the United States stands with people across the Middle East and North Africa who are seeking to determine their own destiny, including continuing support for international military operations to protect the Libyan people.

    All of President Obama's selections for the Pentagon, CIA and leadership positions in Afghanistan are subject to confirmation by the U.S. Senate.  Already, they have met with wide praise from Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill, including key members of the Senate who will be involved in their confirmation hearings.  

    You May Like

    Video Democrats Clinton, Kaine Offer 'Very Different Vision' Than Trump

    In a jab at Trump, Clinton says her team wants to 'build bridges, not walls'; Obama Hails Kaine's record; Trump calls Kaine a 'job-killer'

    Turkey Wants Pakistan to Close Down institutions, Businesses Linked to Gulen

    Thousands of Pakistani students are enrolled in Gulen's commercial network of around two dozen institutions operating in Pakistan for over two decades

    AU Passport A Work in Progress

    Who will get the passport and what the benefits are still need to be worked out

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movementi
    X
    July 22, 2016 11:49 AM
    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Poor Residents in Cleveland Not Feeling High Hopes of Republican Convention

    With the Republican Party's National Convention underway in Cleveland, Ohio, delegates and visitors are gathered in the host city's downtown - waiting to hear from the party's presidential candidate, Donald Trump. But a few kilometers from the convention's venue, Cleveland's poorest residents are not convinced Trump or his policies will make a difference in their lives. VOA's Ramon Taylor spoke with some of these residents as well as some of the Republican delegates and filed this report.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video With Yosemite as Backdrop, Obama Praises National Parks

    Last month, President Barack Obama and his family visited some of the most beautiful national parks in the U.S. Using the majestic backdrop of a towering waterfall in California's Yosemite National Park, Obama praised the national park system which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. He talked about the importance of America’s “national treasures” and the need to protect them from climate change and other threats. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Counter-Islamic State Coalition Plots Next Steps

    As momentum shifts against Islamic State in Iraq, discussions are taking place about the next steps for driving the terrorist group from its final strongholds. Secretary of State John Kerry is hosting a counter-IS meeting at the State Department, a day after defense ministers from more than 30 countries reviewed and agreed upon a course of action. VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb reports.
    Video

    Video Russia's Participation at Brazil Olympic Games Still In Question

    The International Olympic Committee has delayed a decision on whether to ban all Russian teams from competing in next month's Olympic Games in Brazil over allegations of an elaborate doping scheme. The World Anti-Doping Agency recently released an independent report alleging widespread doping by Russian athletes at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. So far, only Russian track and field athletes have been barred from the Summer Games in Brazil. VOA's Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.
    Video

    Video Millennials Could Determine Who Wins Race to White House

    With only four months to go until Americans elect a new president, one group of voters is getting a lot more attention these days: those ages 18 to 35, a generation known as millennials. It’s a demographic that some analysts say could have the power to decide the 2016 election. But a lot depends on whether they actually turn out to vote. VOA’s Alexa Lamanna reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora