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Obama's new national security team faces major challenges

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• Veteran diplomat Ryan Crocker, a former ambassador to Iraq and Pakistan, has been nominated to be the new Ambassador to Afghanistan, replacing retired Army Lt. Gen. Karl Eikenberry.

“I’ve worked closely with most of the individuals on this stage, and all of them have my complete confidence,” Mr. Obama said in making his announcement. “Given the pivotal period that we’re entering into, I felt it was absolutely critical that we have this team in place so we can stay focused on our mission…. I cannot think of a group of individuals better suited to lead our national security team during this difficult time.”

Decades of experience

The total experience of this team is impressive by any standard, running to many decades for each of them in a variety of positions highly useful to today’s national security challenges, including international terrorism. Each brings gravitas as well as experience to his new post.

Mr. Gates, who began his time at the Pentagon under former President Bush and who was asked to stay on by Obama, has said from the beginning that he would stay no longer than two years as part of the current administration.

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