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

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants 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.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs