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Top National Security Officials Slated To Leave Their Posts

MICHELE NORRIS, Host:

Well, NPR Pentagon correspondent Tom Bowman is in the studio with us, and he's learned some of the key developments, and he'll share them with us. Tom, let's start with General Petraeus. If he leaves his post in Afghanistan, where will he go?

TOM BOWMAN: And the White House and the Pentagon have said nothing's been finalized, and the White House declined to comment, saying it's a personnel matter. But we're hearing this from a number of people. It's more than just a rumor. And knowing how the government works, you would have to have these conversations now with these people in order for them to be in the new jobs by the fall.

NORRIS: Help us understand something. Why would General Petraeus be considered for head of the CIA instead of a top military job?

BOWMAN: Well, one reason is a lot of the top military jobs are taken. Army chief of staff job has already been taken by another general. And the truth is there's really only one great military job, and that's chairman of the joint chiefs. But from what we're hearing Petraeus is not being considered for that top military job, chairman of the joint chiefs.

NORRIS: How common is it to have a military man as head of the CIA?

BOWMAN: Among the earliest directors was one of Eisenhower's top aides during World War II. And, of course, you know, Petraeus has worked closely with the intelligence community in his jobs in Iraq and Afghanistan, coordinating what they do with what his military does. So it's not like he's a stranger to the agency and its workings.

NORRIS: Now, we were talking about musical chairs, and if Petraeus is to move to the CIA, there's already sitting - there's already someone sitting in that chair. There already is a CIA director. His name is Leon Panetta. If this happens, what happens to Leon Panetta?

BOWMAN: So the big issue now will be the budget. And how do you make the serious cuts in the Pentagon? And Panetta was, after all, budget director in the Clinton administration.

NORRIS: And Secretary Gates, what will he be doing?

BOWMAN: Retiring, somewhere up in Washington state. He's been looking forward to that, I think, for quite some time.

NORRIS: That's NPR's Tom Bowman. Tom, thank you very much.

BOWMAN: You're welcome, Michele. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.