Panetta Vows to Put National Security, Troops First

WASHINGTON, June 9, 2011 — Leon E. Panet­ta told the Sen­ate Armed Ser­vices Com­mit­tee today that if he’s con­firmed as the next defense sec­re­tary, his first and fore­most mis­sion will be to pro­tect the Unit­ed States and ensure it has the “best-trained, the best-equipped and the strongest mil­i­tary in the world” to pro­vide that defense.

Panet­ta, who has served as direc­tor of the CIA since Feb­ru­ary 2009, said dur­ing his con­fir­ma­tion hear­ing that he will work close­ly with the ser­vice sec­re­taries and chiefs and Con­gress, and that he will be a staunch advo­cate for mil­i­tary mem­bers and their families. 

“I believe it’s impor­tant to have a can­did, open line of com­mu­ni­ca­tion between the sec­re­tary and all of the ser­vice chiefs,” he said. “They’re the ones that are out there lead­ing each of their ser­vices. And I need to know what they’re think­ing, and I need to know what is impor­tant in terms of serv­ing the inter­ests of the troops that they direct­ly lead.” 

The Unit­ed States owes mem­bers of the all-vol­un­teer force who have stepped for­ward to serve, as well as their fam­i­lies, the “best lead­er­ship, the best train­ing, the best equip­ment, the best ben­e­fits [and] the best health care that we can give them,” he told the panel. 

Panet­ta pledged to fight for sup­port and to be “mind­ful of the stress­es” on mil­i­tary mem­bers and their fam­i­lies as he makes deploy­ment deci­sions. “They put their lives on the line to fight for Amer­i­ca, and I will just as sure­ly fight for them and for the fam­i­lies who sup­port and sus­tain them,” he said. 

The president’s nom­i­nee for the top Pen­ta­gon post said he feels hon­ored to be con­sid­ered to fol­low in the foot­steps of Defense Sec­re­tary Robert M. Gates, who he said “will be remem­bered as one of the great­est sec­re­taries of defense in our nation’s his­to­ry for the way he led the depart­ment dur­ing a time of war and for the cru­cial reforms that he’s tried to put in place in the way the Pen­ta­gon does business.” 

“Those are reforms that I intend to car­ry on,” he told the com­mit­tee, promis­ing to use a “focused, hands-on” man­age­ment style to run the department. 

If he is con­firmed, Panet­ta said, he will lead the depart­ment at a time of “his­toric change” and as the nation con­fronts “a mul­ti­tude of challenges.” 

These, he said, include the oper­a­tions under way in Iraq and Afghanistan, al-Qai­da and oth­er ter­ror­ist net­works, the pro­lif­er­a­tion of dan­ger­ous weapons, ris­ing inter­na­tion­al pow­ers, and polit­i­cal trans­for­ma­tions under way in the Mid­dle East and North­ern Africa. In addi­tion, “the next Pearl Har­bor that we face could well be a cyber attack,” he said. 

“We are no longer in the Cold War,” Panet­ta declared. “This is more like the ‘Bliz­zard War’ — a bliz­zard of chal­lenges that draw speed and inten­si­ty from ter­ror­ism, from rapid­ly devel­op­ing tech­nolo­gies and the ris­ing num­ber of pow­ers on the world stage.” 

This comes as the Defense Depart­ment attempts to cut $400 bil­lion in spend­ing as part of the administration’s deficit-reduc­tion ini­tia­tives, Panet­ta noted. 

“Our chal­lenge will be to design bud­gets that elim­i­nate waste­ful and duplica­tive spend­ing while pro­tect­ing those core ele­ments that we absolute­ly need for our nation’s defense,” he told the panel. 

Panet­ta said he does­n’t believe the Unit­ed States needs to choose between strong fis­cal dis­ci­pline and a strong nation­al defense. 

“I don’t deny that there are going to be tough deci­sions that have to be made and tough choic­es that have to be made,” he said. “But we owe it to our cit­i­zens to pro­vide both strong fis­cal dis­ci­pline and a strong nation­al defense.” 

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs) 

Face­book and/or on Twit­ter

Team GlobDef

Seit 2001 ist im Internet unterwegs, um mit eigenen Analysen, interessanten Kooperationen und umfassenden Informationen für einen spannenden Überblick der Weltlage zu sorgen. war dabei die erste deutschsprachige Internetseite, die mit dem Schwerpunkt Sicherheitspolitik außerhalb von Hochschulen oder Instituten aufgetreten ist.

Alle Beiträge ansehen von Team GlobDef →