Barack Obama is reported to be considering the one-time
Democratic presidential nominee, John Kerry, for the post of Defence
Secretary. As the Obama administration enters its second term, the
incumbent, Leon Panetta, is expected to step down. His replacement
will face pressing strategic challenges, chief among them the
orderly withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan and the wrangle
over cuts to the defence budget.
But more immediately, he or she will have to deal with controversy over the link between General John Allen, the top US commander in the war-torn country, and the scandal that led to General David Petraeus' resignation as CIA director.
Senator Kerry was viewed as the natural successor to Hillary Clinton, who is expected to step down as Secretary of State. A committed internationalist and chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, he is well known in capitals around the world. But the White House is said to be keen on Susan Rice, the current US ambassador to the UN, for the role.
Instead, the Senator's CV - he is a Vietnam War veteran - is being viewed by White House advisers as the right fit for the Pentagon job, which increasingly combines aspects of diplomacy, both domestically and with countries where the US is militarily engaged, and strategic planning.
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