WASHINGTON -- Seeking to tame wars overseas and budget deficits at home, President Barack Obama announced a major remake of his national security team yesterday, aimed at ensuring leadership continuity during a perilous time.
His own re-election approaching, Obama turned to a cast of familiar and respected officials for the most sweeping reworking of his national security team since the opening weeks of his presidency.
He nominated CIA director Leon Panetta to replace Defense Secretary Robert Gates when Gates makes his long-planned retirement this summer, and he proposed sending Iraq and Afghanistan war commander Gen. David Petraeus to head the CIA.
The changes, which require Senate approval, come as the administration confronts numerous national security challenges, including the war in Afghanistan and making politically risky cuts to the Pentagon budget.
"These are the leaders that I've chosen to help guide us through the difficult days ahead," Obama said in the White House East Room with Gates, Panetta and Petraeus.
Also present were longtime diplomat Ryan Crocker, Obama's pick to be the new U.S. ambassador in Afghanistan, and Petraeus' proposed replacement in the war theater, Marine Corps Lt. Gen. John Allen. Allen is deputy commander of U.S. Central Command, which oversees U.S. military operations across the Middle East.