Flanked by all five of them in the East Room of the White House, the president nominated CIA director Leon Panetta to replace retiring Robert Gates as defense secretary. He nominated Gen. David Petraeus to take over Panetta's CIA director job. And Obama nominated Lt. General John Allen to take Patraeus' place as commander of the NATO International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan.
The president also announced that Karl W. Eikenberry would retire and he nominated Ryan Crocker to take over as ambassador to Afghanistan.
"All of them have my complete confidence," Obama said. "I am very, very grateful to each of them for accepting this new assignment."
The president said Panetta would bring the political acumen of a congressman and budget experience to the Defense Department. About Petraeus, Obama said his "unique knowledge" of the Middle East and Afghanistan give him special insight to lead the Central Intelligence Agency.
Obama said Crocker, a five-time ambassador, would continue the work he started when he reopened the U.S. Embassy in Kabul after the fall of the Taliban.
Lt. General Allen, Obama said, is a "battle tested combat leader ... who helped turn the tide in Al Anbar province."
The President began his announcement by addressing the severe weather that's left hundreds dead. "The federal government will do anything to help you recover," he said. He said he already declared a state of emergency in Alabama.
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