The U.S. Senate voted unanimously June 21 to confirm Leon E. Panetta as the next secretary of defense.
Panetta received broad bipartisan support following his June confirmation hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee in which he said his foremost mission as defense secretary would be to protect the United States and ensure it has the "best-trained, the best-equipped and the strongest military in the world."
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 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.