Leon Panetta, currently CIA director, is a close ally of Vice President Biden. But political realities could prevent him from adopting Mr. Biden's stance on US troops in Afghanistan.
Gen. David Petraeus replaced Gen. Stanley McChrystal as head of US forces in the Afghanistan war this year. One change he's made represents something of a gamble to some in the Pentagon.
The administration also ends accounting practices that kept war funding from public scrutiny.
On the fifth anniversary of the Iraq war, progress is slow but violence is down. A three-part series on the war's effects starts today with a look at what the endgame might look like.