The Army said yesterday that the No. 2 U.S. commander in Iraq, Lt. Gen. Raymond Odierno, has been chosen to be the next Army vice chief of staff, replacing Gen. Richard Cody.
In another key Army shift, Lt. Gen. Martin Dempsey has been nominated for promotion to four-star general and assignment as the commander of U.S. Army Europe. Gen. Dempsey currently is the deputy commander of U.S. Central Command and previously served two tours in Iraq as a senior commander. His nomination is subject to Senate confirmation.
Gen. Dempsey would replace Gen. David McKiernan in Europe. In announcing Gen. Dempsey’s selection, the Pentagon did not say when he would take over. But it is expected to be in May or June. Gen. McKiernan has been selected as the next commander of NATO forces in Afghanistan.
Gen. Odierno, currently commander of the Army’s Third Corps, based at Fort Hood, Texas, has been the top day-to-day commander in Iraq under Gen. David H. Petraeus for the past 15 months. He is scheduled to leave Iraq this month as the Army’s 18th Airborne Corps takes over as Gen. Petraeus’ main command.
Gen. Odierno has been nominated for a fourth star, subject to Senate confirmation, and would take over for Gen. Cody this summer.
In his new Pentagon assignment, Gen. Odierno would work under Gen. George Casey, who preceded Gen. Petraeus as the top commander in Iraq. Gen. Odierno previously commanded the 4th Infantry Division in Iraq from March 2003 to April 2004; his soldiers were credited with capturing Saddam Hussein in December 2003.
Gen. Cody, 57, is expected to retire after an Army career that began in June 1972 with graduation from West Point. After a wide range of assignments he became Army vice chief of staff in June 2004, replacing Gen. Casey.
Gen. Cody was the first career aviator to be elevated to the vice chief of staff job. Years earlier, he had made a mark in Army history from the cockpit of an Apache helicopter. He was piloting one of eight Apaches that sneaked into Iraqi airspace on the night of Jan. 17, 1991, and attacked crucial air defense radar sites with Hellfire missiles and 30 mm gunfire, It cleared a path for fighters and bombers that began the first U.S. war against Iraq.
The Persian Gulf War’s top commander, Army Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf, said later they had “plucked out the eyes” of Iraq’s air defenses, and Gen. Cody won a Distinguished Flying Cross for his exploits.