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

    Former US Envoys Urge Obama to Delay Troop Cuts in Afghanistan

    Keeping troop levels up during conflict with both Taliban and Islamic State is necessary to support Kabul government, they say

    First Lady to Visit Africa to Promote Girls' Education

    Michele Obama will be joined by daughters and actresses Meryl Streep and Freida Pinto

    Video NYSE Analyst: Brexit Will Continue to Place Pressure on Markets

    Despite orderly pricing and execution strategy at the New York Stock Exchange, analyst explains added pressure on world financial markets is likely

    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.
    Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Uncharted Territoryi
    X
    June 24, 2016 9:38 PM
    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Uncharted Territory

    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Experts: Very Few Killed in US Gun Violence Are Victims of Mass Shootings

    The deadly shooting at a Florida nightclub has reignited the debate in the U.S. over gun control. Although Congress doesn't provide government health agencies funds to study gun violence, public health experts say private research has helped them learn some things about the issue. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
    Video

    Video Trump Unleashes Broadside Against Clinton to Try to Ease GOP Doubts

    Recent public opinion polls show Republican Donald Trump slipping behind Democrat Hillary Clinton in the presidential election matchup for November. Trump trails her both in fundraising and campaign organization, but he's intensifying his attacks on the former secretary of state. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.
    Video

    Video Internal Rifts Over Syria Policy Could Be Headache for Next US President

    With the Obama administration showing little outward enthusiasm for adopting a more robust Syria policy, there is a strong likelihood that the internal discontent expressed by State Department employees will roll over to the next administration. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports.
    Video

    Video Senegal to Park Colorful ‘Cars Rapide’ Permanently

    Brightly painted cars rapide are a hallmark of Dakar, offering residents a cheap way to get around the capital city since 1976. But the privately owned minibuses are scheduled to be parked for good in late 2018, as Ricci Shryock reports for VOA.
    Video

    Video Florida Gets $1 Million in Emergency Government Funding for Orlando

    The U.S. government has granted $1 million in emergency funding to the state of Florida to cover the costs linked to the June 12 massacre in Orlando. U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced the grant Tuesday in Orlando, where she met with survivors of the shooting attack that killed 49 people. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video How to Print Impossible Shapes with Metal

    3-D printing with metals is rapidly becoming more advanced. As printers become more affordable, the industry is partnering with universities to refine processes for manufacturing previously impossible things. A new 3-D printing lab aims to bring the new technology closer to everyday use. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Big Somali Community in Minnesota Observes Muslim Religious Feast

    Ramadan is widely observed in the north central US state of Minnesota, which a large Muslim community calls home. VOA Somali service reporter Mohmud Masadde files this report from Minneapolis, the state's biggest city.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora