‘Blizzard’ of Words, but Panetta’s Actions Will Determine National Security

Mackenzie Eaglen /

At his confirmation hearing today, Defense Secretary nominee Leon Panetta argued that the Cold War of the 20th century had been replaced by a “blizzard” of threats in the 21st. Remarking that “for our troops, there has been no shortage of war,” Panetta will likely concentrate on winding down American involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as completing a comprehensive review of military roles and missions to inform the President’s stated goal of a $400 billion reduction in security spending over the next decade.

Panetta left unanswered, however, where these cuts might come from and which programs and capabilities might be affected.

Much of the hearing dealt with the ongoing conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. With regard to Iraq, Panetta spoke to the possibility of a sustained American presence past the expiration date of 2011 proscribed by the Iraqi–American Status of Forces Agreement. Panetta argued that the President should “seriously consider” the continued deployment of American troops if requested by the Iraqi government. (more…)