Obama Names New National Security Leadership

President Obama on Thursday announced his intent to nominate Leon Panetta to replace Robert Gates as Defense Secretary and Army Gen. David Petraeus to take over for Panetta as CIA director. “I cannot think of a group of individuals better suited to lead our national security team during this difficult time,” said Obama during remarks at the White House. He added, “I urge our friends in the Senate to confirm these individuals as swiftly as possible so they can assume their duties and help meet the urgent challenges we confront as a nation. We are a nation still at war.” Gates intends to serve through June, with Panetta starting in July. Petraeus would retire from the Army and take over at the CIA as a civilian in September. The President also announced that he wants Marine Corps Lt. Gen. John Allen to succeed Petraeus as the top US general in Afghanistan and Ryan Crocker to take over for Karl Eikenberry as US ambassador to that nation. (Obama remarks) (White House blog entry) (Gates statement) (Panetta statement) (See also our initial coverage)