Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Panetta to Replace Gates, Petraeus to Replace Panetta

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Tomorrow the President will announce four important appointments of the national security team.

First he’ll announce that Leon Panetta, currently the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, will be nominated as Secretary of Defense to succeed Secretary Gates. Second, he will announce his intention to nominate General Dave Petraeus as the next director of the Central Intelligence Agency. Third, he’ll announce his intention to nominate Ryan Crocker as the United States next ambassador to Afghanistan. And fourth, he’ll announce his intention to nominate General John Allen, currently the Deputy Commander for CENTCOM, as General Petraeus’ successor as commander for ISAF and commander for U.S. forces in Afghanistan.

I can give you some background on these appointments and then I'd be glad to take your questions.

First, these announcements tomorrow are the combination of a multi-month process of careful consideration by the President for the nominees for these important positions. As you all know, Secretary Gates indicated last year that he would be stepping down as Secretary of Defense by the middle of this year, and those conversations that he had with the President last summer led to a careful consideration of his successor and led to these other appointments, as well.

Karl Eikenberry, ambassador to Kabul, his appointment or tour was coming to an end after two years this spring, and we needed to make a change there. And we were also working on General Petraeus’ successor.

So it’s the culmination of a multi-month, careful process by the President of consideration.

Point two: The President has put in place here those nominees that provide the strongest possible team to execute our strategies and policies.

I stress the word “team.” We have been very fortunate in this administration from the outset to have an integrated and effective team, with an emphasis on how each member of the team, how the institutions work together as a team. The President places a high priority on this, and he carefully thought through how the various individuals here will interact, work together, to execute his strategies and policies on behalf of the country.

Next, we have laid this out in a way that we believe will provide for a seamless transition in each of these positions -- that is, no gap, no disruption in continuity of execution of policies.

Fourth, and I think this is an obvious point -- that the President has selected a deeply experienced group of people, really the best people for these jobs, very strong figures in their own right, each and every one of these individuals. And again, I think that's consistent with the approach that the President has taken from the outset with respect to his national security team -- strong figures who work together, who respect each other, who have deep experience in national security.

And if you work through this -- and we can go through each of the positions -- you have in Ryan Crocker, one of the nation’s most experienced and well-respected diplomats; in General Dave Petraeus, obviously, one of the nation’s preeminent military leaders; Leon Panetta, a deeply experienced public servant; and John Allen, really one of the great leaders of his generation in the military. Read the rest from the White House