Daily brief: Obama war team reshuffle to be announced today

The Rack: Luke Mogelson, "A beast in the heart of every fighting man," New York Times Magazine. Movers and shakers U.S. President Barack Obama is expected to announce today his nomination of current CIA director Leon Panetta to become the new secretary of defense, current commander of international forces in Afghanistan Gen. David Petraeus to ...

U.S. Navy Chief Petty Officer Joshua Treadwell/U.S. Navy via Getty Images
U.S. Navy Chief Petty Officer Joshua Treadwell/U.S. Navy via Getty Images
U.S. Navy Chief Petty Officer Joshua Treadwell/U.S. Navy via Getty Images

The Rack: Luke Mogelson, "A beast in the heart of every fighting man," New York Times Magazine.

Movers and shakers

U.S. President Barack Obama is expected to announce today his nomination of current CIA director Leon Panetta to become the new secretary of defense, current commander of international forces in Afghanistan Gen. David Petraeus to be the new CIA head, as well as appointments of Lt. Gen. John Allen to replace Petraeus in Afghanistan and Amb. Ryan C. Crocker to replace Amb. Karl Eikenberry as U.S. envoy to Afghanistan (McClatchy, Post, NYT, Post, Reuters, Tel, LAT). Panetta, a long-time Washington insider who crafted President Bill Clinton's 1993, budget and Petraeus, who commanded U.S. forces in Iraq, are both considered advocates of the increased use of covert attacks and Special Operations Forces to target terrorist groups (WSJ).

The shift is seen by some analysts as part of a wider transformation in the way the United States conducts war, as the military has expanded its special operations and intelligence gathering role and the CIA has placed increased emphasis on the role its paramilitary operatives play around the world (NYT, Post). Panetta's move to the defense department is also seen as a precursor to the expected budget battles over trimming defense spending, while Petraeus will have to deal with a CIA that has not always taken kindly to military officers at the top (McClatchy, NYT, AP).

The Journal also has a profile of Lt. Gen. Allen, who has not served in Afghanistan but is well-known for his efforts to tamp down violence in Iraq's volatile al-Anbar province during his time in the country (WSJ).

The Rack: Luke Mogelson, "A beast in the heart of every fighting man," New York Times Magazine.

Movers and shakers

U.S. President Barack Obama is expected to announce today his nomination of current CIA director Leon Panetta to become the new secretary of defense, current commander of international forces in Afghanistan Gen. David Petraeus to be the new CIA head, as well as appointments of Lt. Gen. John Allen to replace Petraeus in Afghanistan and Amb. Ryan C. Crocker to replace Amb. Karl Eikenberry as U.S. envoy to Afghanistan (McClatchy, Post, NYT, Post, Reuters, Tel, LAT). Panetta, a long-time Washington insider who crafted President Bill Clinton’s 1993, budget and Petraeus, who commanded U.S. forces in Iraq, are both considered advocates of the increased use of covert attacks and Special Operations Forces to target terrorist groups (WSJ).

The shift is seen by some analysts as part of a wider transformation in the way the United States conducts war, as the military has expanded its special operations and intelligence gathering role and the CIA has placed increased emphasis on the role its paramilitary operatives play around the world (NYT, Post). Panetta’s move to the defense department is also seen as a precursor to the expected budget battles over trimming defense spending, while Petraeus will have to deal with a CIA that has not always taken kindly to military officers at the top (McClatchy, NYT, AP).

The Journal also has a profile of Lt. Gen. Allen, who has not served in Afghanistan but is well-known for his efforts to tamp down violence in Iraq’s volatile al-Anbar province during his time in the country (WSJ).

Bloody Wednesday

New information has emerged about yesterday’s shooting of nine Americans by an Afghan Air Force officer, Ahmad Gul, who was allegedly distressed about his financial situation and according to ABC News "disarmed…and methodically killed" the eight soldiers and one contractor with his U.S.-issued M9 handgun after an argument (ABC, CNN, Guardian, Independent, Pajhwok, AP, AFP, NYT). The Afghan government also disputed the claims of Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid that the attack was a Taliban operation.

The governor of Kandahar’s Sarposa prison, Gen. Ghulam Dastgir, was detained yesterday along with several aides and bodyguard following questioning into Monday’s escape of nearly 500 Taliban prisoners from the jail (Reuters, BBC, Pajhwok). Also yesterday, a U.N. report said that payroll systems for Afghan police are improving, just a day after a report from the U.S. investigative body for Afghan reconstruction found huge flaws in record keeping in Afghanistan’s interior ministry, which oversees the police (Reuters).

Pakistan yesterday denied reports that it had urged Afghanistan to realign itself with Pakistan and China instead of the U.S. at an April 16 meeting in Kabul (Reuters). Additional reports about the meeting allege that Pakistani prime minister Yousaf Raza Gilani told Afghan president Hamid Karzai the U.S. strategy in Afghanistan was failing, that China is an ascendant power, and asked that the insurgent Haqqani network be given a political role in Afghanistan as part of a peace settlement (NYT, Post). And at least 12 Afghan soldiers and one Pakistani frontier corpsman have reportedly been killed in clashes near the border with Pakistan’s South Waziristan agency (ET, The News).

The Tribune reports on the rise in Pakistani-China ties, with a visit by foreign secretary Salman Bashir to China this week reportedly prompted by the spike in Pakistan-U.S. tensions (ET).

Bike bombs

A bus carrying Pakistani Navy personnel was bombed this morning in Karachi, killing four members of the navy and one civilian in an attack later claimed by the Pakistani Taliban (AP, Reuters, BBC, Guardian, Dawn, NYT). The bombing is the third this week to target the navy, which is based in Karachi, Pakistan’s largest city and the country’s economic capital. Also in Karachi yesterday five political activists were killed in the city’s ongoing wave of targeted killings (Daily Times, Dawn). Unidentified militants in Pakistan’s troubled Baluchistan province attacked a passenger train and blew up two pipelines yesterday (Daily Times). And at least seven militants have reportedly been killed by Pakistani security forces in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa’s Hangu district (Dawn).

And finally today, the AP reports that the killing of former Pakistani intelligence officer and long-time Taliban supporter Col. Imam by the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan in February has laid bare tensions between militant groups in North Waziristan, possibly opening up the possibility of a limited Pakistani incursion into Mir Ali, the purported home of the TTP as well as al-Qaeda and other militant groups in the area (AP).

Snooker domination

Two Afghan snooker players, known as "cueists," have advanced in the 27th Asian Snooker Championship in India after beating their respective Bahraini and Mongolian opponents (Pajhwok). The two have previously defeated rivals from Pakistan, India, Iran and Kuwait.

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