April 27, 2011
President Barack Obama is expected to announce Leon Panetta as defense secretary as current Defense Secretary Robert Gates prepares to step down this summer. U.S. Army Gen. David Petraeus, now the commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, meanwhile, may be tagged to step into Panetta’s current role as director of CIA, according to sources familiar with the situation.
Though Panetta’s relationship with the Obama administration wouldn’t be described as cozy, his intelligence gathering is invaluable to the ongoing campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan—making his appointment somewhat of a no-brainer.
Furthermore, considering Panetta’s past budget negotiation role as head of the Office of Management and Budget in the Clinton administration, he has the wherewithal to advance budget reform and defense procurement instituted under Gates’ direction.
The long-awaited, high-level personnel movements were not confirmed by senior congressional aides, but top U.S. officials said Wednesday that the announcement would come sometime this week.