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Panetta Expected to Sail Through DefSec Hearings, but Pentagon Challenges Remain

Leon Panetta, Photo: CIA.gov

CIA Director Leon Panetta, the president’s pick to be the next defense secretary, heads to the Senate Armed Services Committee this morning for the first in a series of confirmation hearings.

But the outcome is all but assured. Panetta, a former Clinton administration budget director and California congressman, has earned respect from both sides of the aisle for his stewardship of the CIA, and is expected to sail through the confirmation.

However, as The Hill points out, Panetta’s popularity doesn’t “mean his leadership of the Pentagon does not come with questions and challenges.”

One of those challenges is the Pentagon’s finances. Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates had championed an effort to cut overhead costs at the department, the so-called “efficiencies initiatives.”

However, as the government’s economic portrait worsened, the White House pushed for an additional $400 billion in Pentagon cuts, which some defense observers say will be exceedingly difficult.

Click here to watch a live web stream of the hearings.

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