House Armed Services Committee Ranking Member Congressman Adam Smith (WA-09) released the following statement today after the Senate confirmed current CIA director Leon Panetta as the next Secretary of Defense:

"I am pleased to see that the Senate has confirmed current CIA Director Leon Panetta as the next Secretary of Defense. While replacing Secretary Gates is not an easy task, I strongly believe that Leon Panetta has the professionalism, knowledge and support to step in and do a tremendous job.

“As our nation faces a number of national security challenges, the Department of Defense needs strong and experienced leadership. I congratulate Leon Panetta on this important appointment and I am confident that he will provide the leadership that our country needs.”