Reports from earlier this month that CIA Director Leon Panetta would replace Robert Gates as Defense Secretary and Gen. David Petraeus would take over the CIA are being supported again by a new round of comments. The new comments also offer more specific details.
While the official announcement has yet to be made, Secretary Gates is said to be leaving on June 30 to make room for Panetta. It is not Panetta’s CIA experience which has officials interested, but rather his role as Office of Management and Budget Director.
Gates, a Bush Administration holdover, has been angrily condemning all efforts to cut the military’s budget, railing against Democrats and Republicans for even broaching the subject during a time of massive budget deficits.
Panetta is seen as better able to cope with the notion that every new Pentagon budget will not necessarily set a new record for military spending in the history of mankind. He will not only likely be less hostile to cuts, but his experience would set him up in a position to manage such cuts.
This has some believing that President Obama may finally be serious about offering credible cuts to military spending. His current plan, however, actually increases near term spending while only offering hypothetical cuts 12 years down the road. This suggests Panetta’s appointment might not necessarily mean an immediate change in policy so much as an appearance of change in policy.