Battleland

Obama national security team changeup begins

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With President Obama expected to tap Gen. David Petraeus to head the CIA and likely move agency director Leon Panetta over to be the new Defense Secretary, expect a crowd of military experts, former intelligence officials and retired generals to prattle on with the supposed inside story about what it all means.

You might hear that Obama fears Petraeus’ potential political aspirations and having him in the national security fold keeps that second career paused, at least for now, or that Panetta might be more cooperative in drawing down troops in Afghanistan, or that Panetta could better trim the balance sheet at the Pentagon at a time of shrinking budgets because of his experience as head of the Office of Management and Budget in the Clinton administration.

There might be shades of truth to all these theories, or it might be that Defense Secretary Bob Gates really wants to go home and the president needs a new Secretary of Defense. The president might just be picking among the officials who he thinks are the best qualified candidates for some revolving posts. Obama has apparently convinced a reluctant Ryan C. Crocker, an experienced former ambassador who retired in 2009 after his service in Iraq, to take over the U.S. Embassy in Kabul. Crocker was Petraeus’ civilian counterpart in Iraq.

Let the spin begin.

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