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Panetta to Defense, Petraeus to CIA

There have been trial balloons floating on both of these for a while so neither is really a surprise.

President Obama is expected this week to nominate Gen. David H. Petraeus to replace Leon Panetta as CIA director and to name Panetta as secretary of defense, U.S. officials said Wednesday, part of a long-anticipated shakeup of his national security team.

Obama's national security team has never been particularly impressive. Anytime Joe Biden gets a serious hearing, you have left the serious zone. There have been individuals who had strong skills, but there has never been the slightest sense that a coherent policy on any major issue or even in general was in play. Well aside from a combo security/diplomatic initiative to screw our friends and kow tow to our enemies. These latest moves seem designed to counter that impression, but I wonder if that is true.

The main things both Panetta and Petraeus have in common is they will be easily confirmable, Obama is comfortable with them and neither has any real experience germane to the jobs they are about to assume. Panetta is a career politician/bureaucrat whose main role at DoD will likely be as point man for the additional budget cuts Obama has said he wants. Petraeus has been a consumer of intelligence at a high level for a number of years, but has not served in roles where the mission was gathering it, analyzing it, and disseminating it. If Panetta can find some fraud, waste and abuse to cut out of the Penatagon budget more power to him, but it is more likely he wil be the President's hatchet man. And if Petraeus can improve relations between the CIA and the military great. Even better if he can help get them back into the human intelligence business, but the bureaucracy does not respond like a military command.

The other probable appointment of note is Ryan Crocker to Afghanistan as Ambassador. Hard to argue with this one at all; he proved himself in Iraq and has the tools and standing to make a difference. So, over all grades:

Panetta to DoD- C

Petraeus to CIA- B

Crocker to Afghanistan- A