A new Secretary of Defense. “I was proud to wear the uniform of our country. And my respect and admiration for our country’s armed forces has only grown in the decade since,” said Leon Panetta. Assuming he’s confirmed, he will succeed Robert Gates as SECDEF in July. Panetta was among four nominated by President Barack Obama to fill key national security positions. “These are the leaders that I’ve chosen to help guide us through the difficult days ahead, said Mr Obama.