Entries in Defense Secretary (5)


CIA Director Leon Panetta to Replace Defense Secretary Gates

TIM SLOAN/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama will nominate CIA Director Leon Panetta to replace Secretary of Defense Robert Gates when he steps down, ABC News has learned.

Panetta has been widely suggested to succeed Gates, who has said he plans to retire sometime later this year.  The exact date of Gates' departure is not yet known.

The president will also nominate Gen. David Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, to fill Panetta's shoes as the CIA chief.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Sec. of Defense Robert Gates Planning to Step Down; Replacements Unknown

Gen. David Petraeus and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates upon Gates' arrival in Kabul, Afghanistan last month. MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- There will be a new top leadership team at the Pentagon later this year when Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Joint Chiefs Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen step down from their posts. Gates has said on multiple occasions that he intends to retire from his post later this year, though he has never said exactly when he would do so.

Just Thursday in Baghdad, he told a group of American soldiers that he was likely on his last trip to Iraq as Secretary of Defense. Having made quarterly visits to Iraq in recent years, he lent some credence to speculation that he could step down this summer following the start of the U.S. drawdown in Afghanistan scheduled for July.

Mullen's second two-year term as chairman of the Joint Chiefs will run out on Oct. 1. Mullen's successor would likely have to be named by the White House in early summer to allow enough time for the Senate confirmation process.

Leon Panetta's name surfaced in recent weeks as a potential Gates successor, but Washington was abuzz this week with the possibility that Gen. David Petraeus could replace Panetta if he does head to the Pentagon.

A U.S. official tells ABC News there are White House discussions about having Petraeus take over at the CIA. But that possibility would only be contingent on an opening at the CIA if Panetta were to move on.

But CIA spokesman George Little says about the Panetta talk, "He isn't seeking any other job and hasn't been asked by the President to take on a different role." He added, "Director Panetta is proud to lead the men and women of the CIA and is focused squarely on the agency's mission."

While Panetta has garnered all the recent attention, others seen as potential contenders to succeed Gates are Navy Secretary Ray Mabus, Defense Under Secretary for Policy Michele Flournoy and former Deputy Defense Secretary John Hamre. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton ended speculation she was in the running when she told reporters last month that she intended to remain at her post and then leave the administration after the 2012 election.

Conventional wisdom has Gen. James Cartwright, Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, as the leading candidate to succeed Mullen, who will have served four years as the President's top military advisor. His profile became higher after Bob Woodward, in his book Obama's Wars, labeled him as "Obama's favorite general."

But Gen. Petraeus has also been discussed as a potential successor to Mullen since it was first reported that he is scheduled to step down later this year as the top commander of NATO forces in Afghanistan. It's unclear when Petraeus would leave his post, but a Defense official says he has "pledged to see this through another fighting season if that was necessary."

But with few four-star openings available to Petraeus if he remains in the military, the possibility that he could take over at the CIA seemed an intriguing choice to many in Washington.

A Defense official says such talk is just "premature."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Gates: 'No Idea' on Size of US Troop Drawdown in Afghanistan

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Defense Secretary Gates called it a “fairly dramatic reduction in the overseas contingency operations budget," as war funding drops to $117.8 billion in 2012 from $160 billion this year.  But it’s all because of the U.S. drawdown in Iraq that will be completed by January 1, 2012 which makes next year’s war funding all about Afghanistan.  

The drawdown of the 98,000 U.S. troops currently in Afghanistan is slated to begin in July of this year, but Gates admitted Monday “we have no idea what the size of the drawdowns will be" because the pace of troop reductions will all depend on security conditions on the ground.
As such, Gates said it make more sense to continue to conservatively budget the war next year at the 98,000 U.S. troop level and see what happens as the drawdown progresses.
According to Gates, “It makes more budget sense to do this conservatively and budget on a straight line basis from FY 2011 and depending on the size of the drawdown, that maybe money we just won’t spend. “
However, Gates made it clear that while it made good budget sense to plan for maintaining a 98,000 troop level, that’s “not to say we will have 98,000 at the end of FY 2012, in fact that’s a lead pipe cinch we won’t.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio 


Hearing Held on Repeal of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell'

Photo Courtesy - Scott J. Ferrell/ Congressional Quarterly/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The Senate Armed Services Committee opens a hearing Thursday on repeal of the "don't ask, don't tell" policy.

Defending his call for Congress to repeal the policy, Defense Secretary Robert Gates will ask senators to give the military time to work through what he says could be a wrenching change.

The key to success, as with most things military, is training, education and, above all, strong and principled leadership up and down the chain of command," Gates says.

The committee will hear from the military chiefs of each service on Friday.  The general in charge of the Marines has publicly warned about the consequences of repeal.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Gates Launches Investigation of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' Review Leak

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images | Congressional Quarterly(WASHINGTON) -- Defense Secretary Robert Gates is condemning Thursday’s leak to the Washington Post of the results of the Pentagon’s review of the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy on gays in the military and has ordered an investigation to find out who leaked details to the paper.

The Washington Post reported that 70 percent of the respondents believed that allowing gays to serve openly in the military would not have much an effect. 

In a statement released by the Pentagon Friday night, Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell said Gates is “very concerned and extremely disappointed that unnamed sources within the Department of Defense have selectively revealed aspects of the draft findings of the Comprehensive Review Working Group, presumably to shape perceptions of the report prior to its release.”

To that end, Gates not only “strongly condemns” the leak, but he has “directed an investigation to establish who communicated with the Washington Post or any other news organization without authorization and in violation of department policy and his specific instruction.”

The group’s work has been closely held since Gates tasked the body with reviewing how the Defense Department would implement a repeal of the DADT law.  Gates intended to preserve the integrity of the review given how politically charged the idea of repealing the law has become. 

In his statement, Morrell said the group’s work remained private since then, but "anonymous sources now risk undermining the integrity of the process."

The final report still will be presented to Gates on Dec. 1 as originally intended.

According to Friday’s statement, the full report will be made public shortly thereafter.

“Until then, no one at the Pentagon will comment on its contents,” said Morrell.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

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