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Defense Secretary Panetta’s Tenure Spanned Social Changes, World Strife

View a slide show of issues Leon Panetta faced during his time in the top Pentagon post.

In his final appearance on Capital Hill as Defense secretary, Leon Panetta testified Thursday that although he and several other administration officials supported arming select Syrian rebels, the White House ultimately spiked the plan.

The revelation of the dissent among the administration’s top ranks showed the complexity of how to handle Syria’s long-running war between backers of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and those who want his overthrow.

Panetta, who became defense secretary in 2011, also saw during his tenure an uptick in deadly attacks by Afghan trainees against U.S. forces in Afghanistan, the administration’s “pivot toward Asia” and its rising powers — and challenges — in the region, and efforts to maintain relations with key ally Israel.

In addition, Panetta implemented two major policy shifts — allowing gays to openly serve in the military and lifting the ban on women serving in combat roles.

Panetta’s last day as secretary was Friday.

We’ll have more about the administration’s stance on Syria on Friday’s NewsHour. Browse all of our World coverage and follow us on Twitter:

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