Defense Secretary Leon Panetta in Louisville Thursday Night

by Devin Katayama on March 1, 2012

U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta (pictured)  is in Louisville tonight to speak at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium.

The visit from Panetta is part of University of Louisville’s McConnell Center for Political Leadership lecture series. Past speakers have been Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and House Speaker John Boehner. It’s unclear what Panetta’s speech will include, but it comes at a trying time in U.S. military history, including the end of two wars and, more recently, significant cuts to the departments budget.

Panetta has supported President Barack Obama’s $487 billion of spending cuts to the defense budget over the next ten years and he assured the cuts will not reduce the U.S. military presence and will sustain its position as a global leader.

Panetta was appointed by Mr. Obama last April and previously served as the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency director. He signed on to oversee the end of two U.S. wars and some of the largest military budget cuts in U.S. history.

Denise Fitzpatrick has helped organize several headline speakers for U of L’s lecture series, but she said Panetta’s presentation will be a little more off the cuff. His staff often does not provide him with a prepared speech because Panetta will usually stray from the text, she said.

But Panetta will surely not be short of content. The Secretary of Defense is subject only to the orders of the president in military matters.

This will be the first visit for the lecture series from a sitting Secretary of Defense.

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