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

Brutality Eroding IS Financial Support

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper says IS's penchant for publicizing beheadings, other brutal forms of punishment hurts group’s bottom line More

Studies: Climate Change a Factor in Disasters in Syria, California

The studies point to the possibility of clear and present dangers from a threat often considered to be far in the future More

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials and human rights organizations assert that Pakistani authorities are using deadly attack at school in Peshawar as pretext to push out Afghan refugees More

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.
Kerry Seeks Assurances of Russian Non-Interference in Ukrainei
X
March 03, 2015 3:11 AM
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has told his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, that his country could face further consequences to what he called its “already strained economy” if Moscow does not fully comply with a cease-fire in Ukraine. The two met, on Monday, on the sidelines of a U.N. Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva, where Kerry outlined human rights violations in Russian-annexed Crimea and eastern Ukraine. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports from Geneva.
Video

Video Kerry Seeks Assurances of Russian Non-Interference in Ukraine

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has told his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, that his country could face further consequences to what he called its “already strained economy” if Moscow does not fully comply with a cease-fire in Ukraine. The two met, on Monday, on the sidelines of a U.N. Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva, where Kerry outlined human rights violations in Russian-annexed Crimea and eastern Ukraine. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports from Geneva.
Video

Video Smartphones May Help in Diagnosing HIV

Diagnosing infections such as HIV requires expensive clinical tests, making the procedure too costly for many poor patients or those living in remote areas. But a new technology called lab-on-a-chip may make the tests more accessible to many. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials have expressed concern over reports of a crackdown on Afghan refugees in Pakistan following the Peshawar school attack in December. Reports of mass arrests and police harassment coupled with fear of an uncertain future are making life difficult for a population that fled its homeland to escape war. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports from Islamabad.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Prepare to Defend Mariupol

Despite the ongoing ceasefire in Ukraine, soldiers in the city of Mariupol fear that pro-Russian separatists may be getting ready to attack. The separatists must take or encircle the city if they wish to gain land access to Crimea, which was annexed by Russia early last year. But Ukrainian forces, many of them volunteers, say they are determined to defend it. Patrick Wells reports from Mariupol.
Video

Video Moscow Restaurants Suffer in Bad Economy, Look for Opportunity

As low oil prices and Western sanctions force Russia's economy into recession, thousands of Moscow restaurants are expected to close their doors. Restaurant owners face rents tied to foreign currency, while rising food prices mean Russians are spending less when they dine out. One entrepreneur in Moscow has started a dinner kit delivery service for those who want to cook at home to save money but not skimp on quality. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video US, Cuba Report Progress in Latest Talks to Restore Ties

The United States and Cuba say they have made progress in the second round of talks on restoring diplomatic relations more than 50 years after breaking off ties. Delegations from both sides met in Washington on Friday to work on opening embassies in Havana and Washington and iron out key obstacles to historic change. VOA’s Mary Alice Salinas reports from the State Department.
Video

Video Presidential Hopefuls Battle for Conservative Hearts and Minds

One after another, presumptive Republican presidential contenders auditioned for conservative support this week at the Conservative Political Action Conference held outside Washington. The rhetoric was tough as a large field of potential candidates tried to woo conservative support with red-meat attacks on President Barack Obama and Democrats in Congress. VOA Political Columnist Jim Malone takes a look.
Video

Video NYC's Restaurant Week: An Economic Boom in Fine Dining

New Yorkers take pride in setting world trends — in fashion, the arts and fine dining. The city’s famous biannual Restaurant Week plays a significant role in a booming tourism industry that sustains 359,000 jobs and generates $61 billion in yearly revenue. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports.
Video

Video Brookhaven at Cutting Edge of US Energy Research

Issues like the Keystone XL pipeline, fracking and instability in the Middle East are driving debate in the U.S. about making America energy independent. Recently, the American Energy Innovation Council urged Congress and the White House to make expanded energy research a priority. One beneficiary of increased energy spending would be the Brookhaven National Lab, where clean, renewable, efficient energy is the goal. VOA's Bernard Shusman reports.
Video

Video Southern US Cities Preserve Civil Rights Heritage to Boost Tourism

There has been a surge of interest in the American civil rights movement of the 1950s and '60s, thanks in part to the Hollywood motion picture "Selma." Five decades later, communities in the South are embracing the dark chapters of their past with hopes of luring tourism dollars. VOA's Chris Simkins reports.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More