"In my experience this has been an unprecedented process, to have the president of the United States participate in discussions involving the development of a defense strategy," Panetta said at a press briefing at the Pentagon on Thursday.
He thanked Obama for meeting with military personal during the development of the new strategy.
"Truly unprecedented," he added.
The Pentagon on Thursday unveiled a sweeping new military strategy that includes troop reductions, cuts to the nation’s nuclear weapons arsenal and a new approach to fighting al Qaeda.
"It really does represent a historic shift to the future and it recognizes that this country is at a strategic turning point," Panetta said.
Obama announced the new military guidance at the Pentagon briefing before introducing Panettta to expand on the details.
This was the first-ever presidential trip to the Pentagon briefing room, which Obama acknowledged at the end of his speech. "I understand this is the first time the president has done this. It's a pretty nice room," Obama said to laughter from the press.
Obama and the Pentagon’s new strategy argues that the U.S. military can effectively fight al Qaeda even with reduced funding.
“We will keep our armed forces the best-trained, best-led, best-equipped fighting force in history,” Obama writes in the strategy.
For more on the new military strategy on The Hill's DEFCON blog, click here.