- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 23, 2008

WASHINGTON Gen. David H. Petraeus, the top commander in Iraq, will be nominated for chief of U.S. Central Command, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates announced today. Gen. Petraeus will replace Adm. William Fallon, who announced his resignation last month after a national magazine published a feature that said he conflicted with the Bush administration’s policy on Iran. “I don’t know anybody in the U.S. military more qualified to lead that effort,” Mr. Gates said, referring to Gen. Petraeus. Gen. Petraeus, the 55-year-old four-star general, is expected to take command in late summer or early fall, Mr. Gates added. Mr. Gates said Gen. Petraeus will be replaced by Lt. Gen. Ray Odierno, now commander of the Army’s 3rd Corps based at Fort Hood, Texas. Lt. Gen. Martin Dempsey has been serving as interim chief of Central Command since Adm. Fallon retired. Gen. Odierno completed a 15-month tour of duty in February in Iraq as the top deputy to Gen. Petraeus in Baghdad. Gen. Odierno was considered for a promotion to full general and assignment as the Army’s vice chief of staff, but Mr. Gates said the Fallon resignation changed the plan. Central Command (Centcom) oversees the wars in Iraq and in Afghanistan. Gen. Petraeus has been widely regarded by the administration and some congressional members for his plans to quell violence in Iraq and create new strategies to improve security measures in the region. U.S. House Armed Services Committee Ranking Republican Duncan Hunter, California Republican, said “as the commanding officer overseeing our efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan, he will be able to manifest his leadership in Iraq and the critical theater of Afghanistan” adding that he has “full confidence in his capabilities to lead these efforts.” As the former commander of U.S. troops in Iraq, Ray Odierno clearly understands the broad picture. He worked hand in glove with General Petraeus to implement the new counter-insurgency strategy in Iraq. He is enormously qualified and will do a superb job in his new role, Mr. Hunter said. Centcom is based in Tampa, Fla., and its responsibility is the Middle East, Central Asia and the Horn of Africa.

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