News / USA

Obama to Reshuffle National Security Team

President Obama gestures while speaking to reporters about the controversy over his birth certificate, Wednesday, April 27, 2011, at the White House in Washington.
President Obama gestures while speaking to reporters about the controversy over his birth certificate, Wednesday, April 27, 2011, at the White House in Washington.
Kent Klein

President Barack Obama is making sweeping changes in his national security team.  The president Thursday will name a new defense secretary, a CIA director, an ambassador to Afghanistan and a commander of NATO forces in Afghanistan.  

A senior administration official says President Obama will announce four appointments on Thursday.  

He is naming Leon Panetta, the current CIA director, to replace Robert Gates, who is retiring after four years as defense secretary.  General David Petraeus, who commands NATO forces in Afghanistan, will retire from the military and succeed Panetta as leader of the intelligence agency.  

Marine Corps Lieutenant General John Allen, deputy commander of the U.S. Central Command, will take Petraeus’ place in charge of the military operations in Afghanistan.  And longtime diplomat Ryan Crocker will be the new U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan, taking over for Karl Eikenberry, whose term is expiring.

All four positions will require confirmation from the U.S. Senate.

Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, a member of the Armed Services Committee, immediately expressed support for the appointments.

If confirmed, the new appointees will all likely deal with the beginning of the U.S. military withdrawal from Afghanistan.  A White House official says the shakeup will not delay the pullout, which is still set to begin in July, as President Obama said earlier this year.

"Afghanistan is a tougher situation.  But what I have said is that, starting in July of this year, we are going to begin to phase down our troop levels, and we have agreed with our allies that by 2014, this is going to be an Afghan effort," he said.

The senior official said the administration hopes Panetta can be confirmed and in his new office in the Pentagon by July first, with Petraeus leading the CIA by early September.

The senior official said departing the CIA was a difficult decision for Panetta.  He said the former congressman and White House chief of staff is credited with reinvigorating the spy agency and improving morale there.

General Petraeus had led the U.S. and international forces in the Iraq war.  He took his current position last year, replacing General Stanley McChrystal, whom Mr. Obama fired for making negative comments about several administration officials.

Crocker is a 37-year veteran of the U.S. foreign service, who has served as ambassador to Iraq, Pakistan, Kuwait, Syria and Lebanon.  He replaces Karl Eikenberry, who is said to have a contentious relationship with Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

You May Like

Photogallery Pope's Easter Prayer: Peace in Ukraine, Syria

Pontiff also calls for end to terrorist acts in Nigeria, violence in Iraq, and success in peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians More

Abdullah Holds Lead in Afghan Presidential Election

Country's Election Commission says that with half of the ballots counted, former FM remains in the lead with 44 percent of the vote More

Russia-Ukraine Crisis Could Trigger Cyber War

As tensions between Kyiv and Moscow escalate, so too has frequency of online attacks targeting government, news and financial sites More

This forum has been closed.
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.
Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politicsi
Michael Eckels
April 19, 2014
There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.

Video Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politics

There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.