Archive for Thursday, October 27, 2005

Gifted leader’ takes over fort

General trades post in Iraq for stint as Fort Leavenworth commander

October 27, 2005

The new commander or the Command and General Staff College at the Combined Arms Center at Fort Leavenworth brings with him experience especially relevant to today's Army, a longtime colleague said.

Lt. Gen. David Petraeus, fresh from Iraq, succeeded Gen. William S. Wallace as commander of Fort Leavenworth and the Combined Arms Center on Thursday, Oct.20, in a ceremony at Bell Hall.

The ceremony included a 15-gun salute for Petraeus, who had arrived at the fort two days earlier. Petraeus' previous, simultaneous posts were command of the 101st Airborne Division deployed in Iraq and command of the Multi-National Security Transition Command-Iraq and the NATO Training Mission-Iraq. The mission of the last two commands was to train Iraqis soldiers to succeed U.S. troops in providing security for their country.

Wallace, under whom Petraeus served in the V Corps as commander of the 101st during the first year of the Iraqi war, described Petraeus as a "gifted leader."

"He's the right man for the job," Wallace said.

After Wallace spoke at the ceremony, Petraeus, who attended the college in 1982 and 1983, spoke.

"Holly and I are very pleased to return to this wonderful place on the banks of the Missouri River, one of our Army's true intellectual wellsprings," he said.

Petraeus said it was "wonderful" to see that the character of the fort had endured through the years, even as many improvements had been made on the base.

The invitation-only audience included the first commander of the center, retired Gen. John H. Cushman, who was commander from 1973 to 1976. Petraeus called Cushman "a terrific role model for all of us."

A reception was held afterward for the guest of honor. There, a long queue of attendees that stretched far into the adjacent corridor passed a reception line that included Petraeus and his wife, Holly.

Petraeus stayed afterward for a brief question-and-answer session with local media.

He called Lansing a "booming burg," in reference to its growth since he had been a student more than 20 years ago at the post and said Fort Leavenworth was still known as the "best hometown in the U.S. Army."

Among the changes to the Command and General Staff College Petraeus said he planned to make were stronger partnerships between it and the University of Kansas and Kansas State University.

John Twohig, the division chief of the fort's Force Design Directorate, knew Petraeus when the two were classmates and fellow soccer team members at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y.

Twohig said he didn't think Petraeus had changed much since he knew him as a cadet, but "I think he was a little quicker" then, he joked, referring to the general's famous penchant for keeping fit.

"He was a very good team player and he worked hard," Twohig recalled. Twohig, a retired colonel, added that he wasn't surprised at Petraeus' success in his career.

"He can do things at the unit level, and also represent the Army and nation," Twohig said.

Twohig said Petraeus would bring to the college and center "very practical experience from what's he's been doing in Iraq."

He said Petraeus "knows a significant amount about the Army: how it operates, its strengths and weaknesses. And over the years he'll be responsible for shaping it even further."

Twohig's wife, Debbie, grew up in Petraeus' hometown, Cornwall on Hudson, N.Y., and he said that when they visited there he sees that the townspeople "are tremendous fans of General Petraeus; they really hold him in high esteem."

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