In a letter to the Department of Defense on his first day as the new defense secretary, former CIA Director Leon Panetta assured the president, U.S. troops and the department’s civilian employees that he would lead the DoD’s mission to protect U.S. citizens and the country’s interests around the world.
“As secretary of defense, I will do whatever is necessary to protect America and to meet the needs of the men and women who serve in harm’s way, and the families who support them,” Panetta said. “Even as the United States addresses fiscal challenges at home, there will be no hollow force on my watch.”
Panetta addressed the killing of 9/11 terrorist Osama bin Laden as a major step toward the goal of ultimately defeating al-Qaida. With the country still at war in Iraq and Afghanistan, Panetta said he looks forward to visiting troops.
“As CIA director, I saw first-hand the tremendous capabilities of our military and I was always impressed by the professionalism and patriotism of the men and women in the armed forces,” he said.
Panetta paid tribute to former defense secretary Robert M. Gates, saying he was a “tireless advocate for our troops and their families.” He recognized the “tough budget” issues his department will have to make, but gave reassurance that the DoD would remain a strong national defense.