President Obama plans to tap CIA Director Leon Panetta to head the Defense Department to replace outgoing Defense Secretary Robert Gates, and David Petraeus will succeed Panetta at the CIA, according to media reports.
Petraeus, 58, currently serves as the commander of allied forces in Afghanistan and previously led operations in Iraq from 2006 to 2008.The Associated Press and ABC News reported the news late Wednesday. The shuffling of Obama’s national security team was expected for months and will likely take place this summer, when Gates is expected to step down.
In naming Panetta, 73, a longtime Democratic operative and former member of Congress, Obama is selecting a loyal party ally who has won high marks from both Democrats as well as Republicans on Capitol Hill who have otherwise harshly criticized his administration’s foreign policy. Over the last five years, Petraeus has become the most trusted military figure in counter-insurgency strategy and intelligence gathering in both Afghanistan and Iraq.