Today, Mark Udall issued the following statement on President Obama's nomination of current CIA Director Leon Panetta to succeed outgoing Defense Secretary Robert Gates; General David Petraeus, commander of the U.S.-led coalition in Afghanistan, to head the CIA; and five-time ambassador Ryan Crocker, who previously served in Iraq, to lead the U.S. Embassy in Afghanistan. Udall is a member of both the Senate Armed Services Committee and the Select Committee on Intelligence.
"First, I want to offer my deepest thanks to Secretary Gates for his service. Over two administrations and two tumultuous wars, he has provided strong leadership and a steady hand at the wheel, and I wish him all the best as he steps down from the post.
"The president's nominees to head the Defense Department, the embassy in Kabul and the CIA will take over at a critical time both at home and abroad. Our national debt now ranks among the most serious security threats we face, and as Secretary of Defense, Panetta will face further difficult decisions about how to control the department's budget while at the same time managing troop withdrawal from Iraq, transferring responsibility for the fight in Afghanistan to Afghans themselves, and working with NATO to conclude operations in Libya. As CIA director, General Petraeus will have to look at the world through a new lens and focus on the intelligence mission. Ambassador Crocker will need to build diplomatic relations with Afghanistan as we reduce our military presence there.
"I look forward to hearing their strategies to address these challenges and more, and I look forward to asking tough questions at their confirmation hearings in the coming months."