White House Set to Announce Panetta as Gates’ Replacement
President Obama is scheduled today to announce he is nominating CIA Director Leon Panetta to replace Robert Gates as secretary of defense.
If Panetta is confirmed by the Senate, he would take over June 30 when Gates is scheduled to retire. Planning for Gates’ retirement — along with a cavalcade of other national security posts — had been under way for months, reported the Washington Post, but administration officials were not able to confirm the rumors about the likely change at DOD until Panetta accepted the offer to head the department this week.
Gates, who was sworn in on Dec. 18, 2006, first proposed the CIA director as his replacement to the president last fall, according to the Post.
Panetta would be the rare Pentagon chief who has played an active role in defense community issues. As the congressman who represented California’s Monterey Peninsula when Fort Ord landed on the BRAC list in 1991, he was a driving force in organizing local reuse efforts. He even was stationed at Fort Ord when he was in the Army.