By Lisa Daniel
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, June 21, 2011 - The U.S. Senate voted unanimously this evening to confirm Leon E. Panetta as the next Secretary of Defense.
President Barack Obama nominated him earlier this year to replace outgoing Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates. Panetta, who currently serves as CIA director, is a former Congressman from California who has worked in government for four decades, including as President Bill Clinton's budget director.
Obama has nominated Army Gen. David H. Petraeus, commander of U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan, to replace Panetta as CIA director.
Panetta's confirmation comes one day ahead of the president's scheduled address to the nation to outline his plans to drawdown U.S. troops from Afghanistan.
In his hearing before the Senate committee, Panetta called Gates "one of the greatest secretaries of defense in our nation's history" and said he would carry on Gates' initiatives.
Leon E. Panetta