The Washington Times Weekly - - Geopolitics -

The Nov. 6 re-elec­tion of Pres­i­dent Obama trig­gered im­me­di­ate spec­u­la­tion about the fu­ture of De­fense Sec­re­tary Leon E. Panetta, who will turn 75 in June. Mr. Panetta, de­fense sec­re­tary since June 2011, has had a long ca­reer in gov­ern­ment and is said by as­so­ci­ates to be ready to re­turn to pri­vate life in North­ern Cal­i­for­nia, where he fre­quently vis­its and owns land.

Asked about the sec­re­tary’s fu­ture, Pen­tagon spokesman Ge­orge Lit­tle told Inside the Ring:

“Panetta is hon­ored to serve as sec­re­tary, thor­oughly en­joys the job, and that’s where his fo­cus is. His eyes are now on the [De­fense] Depart­ment and its mis­sions, not on his per­sonal fu­ture.”

Pen­tagon in­sid­ers say Deputy Sec­re­tary of De­fense Ash­ton B. Carter is known to be ea­ger to fill the top po­si­tion at the Pen­tagon should Mr. Panetta de­cide to step down. Mr. Carter was the Pen­tagon’s ac­qui­si­tions un­der­sec­re­tary from 2009 un­til Oc­to­ber 2011, when he be­came the No. 2 of­fi­cial.

An­other can­di­date for de­fense sec­re­tary is said to be Michele Flournoy, who held the post of un­der­sec­re­tary of de­fense for pol­icy from 2009 to Fe­bru­ary.

Both Mr. Carter and Ms. Flournoy were of­fi­cials dur­ing the ad­min­is­tra­tion of Bill Clin­ton and fa­vor lib­eral de­fense poli­cies sim­i­lar to those of Mr. Panetta’s.

Mr. Panetta said in a state­ment to Pen­tagon em­ploy­ees on Nov. 7 that throughout the pres­i­den­tial cam­paign, “we at the Depart­ment of De­fense have been squarely fo­cused on our mis­sion of de­fend­ing the na­tion.”

“Now that the cam­paign is over, we will stay just as fo­cused on that crit­i­cal mis­sion,” he said, as the Pen­tagon pre­pares to grap­ple with a loom­ing $660 bil­lion cut in de­fense spend­ing man­dated by Congress in the com­ing months.

Ms. Flournoy is a sup­porter and friend of Sec­re­tary of State Hil­lary Rod­ham Clin­ton, who also is expected to step down af­ter log­ging more than 900,000 miles of travel.

Should Mrs. Clin­ton move on from Foggy Bot­tom, U.S. Am­bas­sador to the United Nations Su­san Rice is expected to be named as her re­place­ment.

How­ever, Ms. Rice is likely to face a bruis­ing con­fir­ma­tion bat­tle be­fore the Se­nate over her pub­lic com­ments call­ing the Sept. 11 at­tack on the U.S. diplo­matic com­pound in Beng­hazi, Libya, the re­sult of spon­ta­neous anti-U.S. demon­stra­tions. legally bind­ing guar­an­tees that our mis­sile de­fenses will not threaten Rus­sia’s strate­gic de­ter­rent,” he said.

“Rus­sia’s de­mand that such guar­an­tees in­clude a set of ‘mil­i­tary-tech­ni­cal cri­te­ria’


De­fense Sec­re­tary Leon E. Panetta, who has held that po­si­tion since June 2011, is said to want to re­sume pri­vate life, but of­fi­cially, he is he’s fully fo­cused on his depart­ment’s mis­sions.

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