(Phatforums Blog/ USA Today/ CNN) – Washington — In the most extensive reshaping of the administration’s national security team to date, President Barack Obama will name CIA Director Leon Panetta as his nominee to succeed Robert Gates as defense secretary, a senior defense official and another U.S. official said Wednesday.
Rounding out the reshuffling, Obama will nominate Lt. Gen. John Allen to replace Petraeus, a senior U.S. official said, and will nominate longtime diplomat Ryan Crocker as the next U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan, sources said.
Big changes for national security team
In addition to Gates retiring, the president will need replacements for Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and FBI Director Robert Mueller. Both of their terms are expiring, and they are not eligible for renomination.
Panetta, 72, took over at the CIA in February 2009. He was chief of staff to President Bill Clinton between 1994 and 1997, and was previously the director of the Office of Management and Budget. The California Democrat served in the House of Representatives from 1977 to 1993.
Before coming to the CIA, he spent 10 years co-directing a public policy institute with his wife, Sylvia.
* Leon Panetta
* Central Intelligence Agency
* David Petraeus
* Barack Obama
* Robert Gates
He was brought in as a relative outsider, without hands-on intelligence experience, to manage an agency that had been shaken by the exposure and criticism of its controversial interrogation and detention program. Panetta’s longstanding ties to Congress were seen as a way to restore the administration’s relationship with oversight committees. He has been given high marks on both fronts from inside the agency and in Congress.
David Berteau, a senior adviser at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said Panetta brings several important qualities to the table.
He “learned a lot of lessons” about defense budgeting during his stint as the head of the OMB and knows how to deal with a Republican Congress, as he did during the Clinton administration, Berteau said.
Panetta’s former congressional district in Northern California had a huge defense presence, Berteau said.
Panetta has earned the trust and confidence of Obama as leader of the CIA, and has name recognition, which is important, Berteau said. “It’s a name Americans recognize. Filling Bob Gates’ shoes is really going to be a tough job.”
Berteau said the president’s choice of Petraeus to lead the CIA indicates that Obama is interested in his national security views and efforts and it “indicates that the president cares about the way all those pieces fit together.”
Petraeus, earlier this month, took a highly unusual step for a military officer when he publicly acknowledged the possibility of being in contention for a presidential appointment. “It’s probably not appropriate for me to comment on whatever might be considered down the road,” he told reporters in Kabul when asked about the possible CIA nomination. “I’ve had discussions, but again, it wouldn’t be appropriate to comment.”
Petraeus, 58, assumed command of the NATO International Security Assistance Force and U.S. Forces Afghanistan in July after serving for more than 20 months as commander of U.S. Central Command.
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He previously commanded multinational forces in Iraq, leading the so-called surge.
During his time commanding the U.S. Army Combined Arms Center and Fort Leavenworth, he oversaw the development of the Army/Marine Corps Counterinsurgency Manual.
Crocker previously has been U.S. ambassador to Iraq and to Pakistan.
Allen became deputy commander of U.S. Central Command in July 2008.