McConnell praises Panetta, Petraeus nominations

In a separate statement, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) praised the picks as well.

“I am glad that both of these distinguished leaders will continue to serve the Administration and provide continuity on our national security agenda," Reid said. "General Petraeus and Director Panetta will ensure smooth transitions during a critical point for American foreign policy – in the midst of two wars, with continued unrest in the Middle East and as we face ongoing threats from international terrorism.”

Panetta will succeed Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Petraeus will be Panetta's replacement.

Petraeus had previously served as the top commander of coalition forces in Afghanistan.

At the press conference Thursday Obama said Petraeus would retire from the Army to head the CIA.

Secretary Gates said June 30 would be his last day on the job.

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