President Obama is expected this week to name Leon E. Panetta, the director of central intelligence, as defense secretary and Gen. David H. Petraeus, the top American commander in Afghanistan, as director of the C.I.A., administration officials said Wednesday.
The appointments, set in motion by the impending retirement of Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, are part of a significant rearrangement of Mr. Obama’s national security team that will include several new assignments within the closest circle of his diplomatic, military and intelligence advisors.
Mr. Gates is expected to step down this summer.
The changes at the top of Mr. Obama’s national security team have long been expected.
Not long after Mr. Gates leaves, the term will expire for the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Mike Mullen, who, like the defense secretary, was appointed by President George W. Bush. And Deputy Secretary of State James B. Steinberg has announced that he is leaving for an academic job — removing one of the crucial players in Mr. Obama’s efforts to manage China’s rise.
But Mr. Gates’s role is the most critical. He often allied with Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton — who has said that she intends to leave the administration when this term ends — including persuading Mr. Obama to start the military buildup in Afghanistan in 2009. Together they won many other battles, but they visibly split last month on the military intervention in Libya.
In naming Mr. Panetta to the Pentagon, Mr. Obama is selecting an already confirmed cabinet official with strong ties to both the White House and Capitol Hill. In selecting General Petraeus, who at least initially did not have a strong relationship with the Obama White House, the president is retaining a high-profile military official who has extensive knowledge of intelligence gathering in both Afghanistan and Iraq in recent years.