U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina), a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, today made these comments on the expected changes to the Obama Administration's national security team.
According to published reports, President Obama plans to nominate CIA director Leon Panetta to head the Department of Defense, Afghanistan Commanding General David Petraeus to head the CIA, Ryan Crocker to serve as U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan, and Lt. Gen. John Allen to succeed Petraeus as commander of coalition forces in Afghanistan.
"The sum total of these picks is that the President has chosen experienced people with unique capabilities to serve our nation at a dangerous time. This team will provide the leadership to help make our nation safer. I could not be more pleased with these selections. I hope these nominees receive swift approval by the United States Senate."
On Leon Panetta as Secretary of Defense:
"Leon Panetta is an outstanding choice to be Secretary of Defense. He understands the variety of threats America faces as well as anyone and has a good working relationship with Congress. He'll be prepared for the job on day one. I look forward to supporting Leon Panetta for Secretary of Defense in this crucial time in our nation's history."
On David Petraeus as CIA Director:
"Without question, General David Petraeus is a national treasure. I believe his talents will be well utilized as the new Director of the CIA. The War on Terror will continue for many years in a variety of forms, and the CIA will continue to play a prominent role in protecting our nation. The CIA can and must provide our nation with the vital intelligence that allows us to stay a step ahead of the enemy. General Petraeus' first-hand knowledge and understanding of the threats we face, as well as his outstanding leadership capabilities, make him an inspired choice to serve as our new CIA Director."
On General John Allen as Commander of Coalition Forces in Afghanistan:
"Lt. General Allen is a worthy successor to General Petraeus as our new commander in Afghanistan. I have known Lt. General Allen for many years and believe his selection will be well-received by our troops in Afghanistan and leaders in the region. He has an intimate understanding of the Afghan strategy and will continue to take the fight to the Taliban and other enemies in Afghanistan. He is the right man at the right time to continue the outstanding work of General Petraeus."
On Ryan Crocker as U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan:
"As we move forward during these critical times, Ryan Crocker will be a steady hand who maximizes our chances of success in Afghanistan. Having Ryan Crocker back in the fight as the new ambassador to Afghanistan is a very wise decision by President Obama. I have never met a diplomat more capable than Ryan Crocker. What he was able to accomplish in Iraq is legendary."
"His prior assignment as U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan will be invaluable to him as we try to move forward in Afghanistan. He and General Allen will make a world-class team representing America's interests in Afghanistan as we transition to Afghan control in 2014. It is also important we recognize the outstanding work of Ambassador Karl Eikenberry. Ambassador Eikenberry deserves a lot of credit for the new strategy that is beginning to show signs of progress in Afghanistan. He and his wife have served our nation well, and I wish them all the best."