Clock ticking for Obama security team
President Obama and his new national security team in the East Room on Thursday
April 28th, 2011
07:28 PM ET

Clock ticking for Obama security team

WASHINGTON (CNN)–When President Obama unveiled his revamped national security team in the East Room, he quickly joked about how badly Defense Secretary Robert Gates has been itching to finally get serious about retirement.

"When I took office, Bob Gates had already served under seven presidents, and he carried a clock that counted down the days, hours, and minutes until he could return to Washington State with his wife Becky," said Obama, adding that he felt lucky to get Gates to keep pushing the exit date back to deal with wars in Afghanistan and Iraq as well as some major budget decisions confronting the nation.

First it was Obama during the presidential transition in December 2008 getting Gates to stay on for just one more year for continuity's sake. Then that grew to staying on for first two and a half years of the administration.

Senior officials tell me Obama had even been hoping to somehow convince Gates to stay on through all four years of the first term for the good of his country, but the president finally gave in and then set his sights to twisting the reluctant arm of CIA Director Leon Panetta to delay his own retirement to take the top spot at the Pentagon.

As Obama noted to laughter about his lobbying of Gates, "At some point along the way, Bob threw out that clock."

Leaving: Robert Gates
April 27th, 2011
01:49 PM ET

Obama selects Panetta for Defense Secretary, Petraeus for C.I.A.

By CNN Wire Staff
WASHINGTON (CNN) - In the most extensive reshaping of the Obama administration's national security team to date, the president will name CIA director Leon Panetta as his nominee to succeed Robert Gates as defense secretary, a senior defense official and another U.S. official said Wednesday.

It took a meeting with President Obama to convince Panetta to accept the job, a source familiar with the discussions told CNN. Panetta has been happy serving at the CIA, but "believes strongly in public service and answering the call from the commander-in-chief," the source said.

Obama will also name Gen. David Petraeus, now the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, as the replacement for Panetta as CIA director, a senior defense official said. FULL POST

Topics: Afghanistan • President Obama • Sec Gates • Staff Changes • The News
Big changes to come on Obama's national security team
Gen. David Petraeus is being considered to be the next CIA Director
April 11th, 2011
11:25 AM ET

Big changes to come on Obama's national security team

By CNN's Barbara Starr -

WASHINGTON (CNN) -The Obama administration is considering General David Petraeus, the top US commander in Afghanistan, as the next possible CIA director, an Administration official confirms to CNN. The official would not be identified because no announcements have been made about upcoming personnel decisions.

The move would be just one of a complex shuffle set to take place through the rest of the year as key members of the president's national security team are set to depart, including Secretary of Defense Robert Gates who has long wanted to retired, and The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen, whose term is set to end this year.

The current director of the CIA, Leon Panetta, is one of the people high on the list to replace Gates as defense secretary, the official said.

"There is a lot of chatter and a lot of speculation out there right now about what General Petraeus may do in the future. And all of it is premature and thus we aren't commenting," said Petraeus' spokesman Col. Erik Gunhus told CNN.

Obama: progress and challenge in Afghanistan
December 16th, 2010
05:40 PM ET

Obama: progress and challenge in Afghanistan

By CNN Wire Staff
WASHINGTON (CNN) -President Barack Obama asserted Thursday that the United States is making significant progress in the nine-year war in Afghanistan, but warned that the conflict "continues to be a very difficult endeavor."

We are "on track to achieve our goals" of disrupting, dismantling and defeating al Qaeda and eroding "its capacity to threaten America and our allies in the future," he said. The gains, however, are fragile.

The president noted, among other things, that there has been a "successful increase" in the recruitment and training of Afghan forces due partly to the July 2011 deadline set by the administration to start withdrawing the U.S. military.

A "sense of urgency" is galvanizing other allies as well, he claimed.