"Secretary Robert Gates has served this country with great distinction and we owe him a debt of gratitude for his lifetime of public service. His commitment to our troops and their success -- often under the most trying conditions -- was unwavering.
"With our military engaged on multiple fronts overseas, Leon Panetta understands the importance of ensuring our men and women in uniform have all the resources they need to complete their missions. I look forward to working with him in his new role as Secretary of Defense.
"I believe General Petraeus, who deserves great credit for his leadership in both Iraq and Afghanistan, is the right person to lead the Central Intelligence Agency. He is a deep thinker, a keen strategist and a gifted leader.
"Our fight in Afghanistan -- and preventing al-Qaeda, the Taliban, and the terrorist insurgency from having safe haven in the region -- is critical to the safety and security of the American people. Ambassador Ryan Crocker and Lt. Gen John Allen are able and dedicated public servants, and I look forward to working with them to continue the progress we are making in Afghanistan."