Petraeus tapped to command U.S. troops in Iraq
Robert Gates, the new secretary of defense, looked to Fort Leavenworth to pluck the new commander of U.S. forces in Iraq, Lt. Gen. David Petraeus.
"He is the right man to lead our forces in Iraq at this critical juncture," Gates said Friday in recommending Petraeus to replace Gen. George Casey as the top U.S. military man in Iraq.
"General Petraeus is an expert in irregular warfare and stability operations, and recently supervised the publication of the first Army and Marine counterinsurgency manual in two decades," Gates said. "Dave Petraeus has been leading the effort to rewrite the military's doctrine for defeating an insurgency, and, subject to confirmation, he'll bring all the tools to enable Iraqi and coalition forces to create a stable and secure Iraq. He is the right man to lead our forces in Iraq at this critical juncture.
Petraeus came to Fort Leavenworth in October 2005 after commanding the 101st Airborne Division deployed in Iraq and commanding 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.
Petraeus was away from Fort Leavenworth on Friday and could not be reached for comment.
U.S. Sen. Sam Brownback, who will seek the Republican nomination for president, praised the choice of Petraeus.
"General Petraeus is an exceptionally smart and thoughtful man who will bring an intellectual creativity to his new mission, and I know that he will do a superb job," the Kansas senator said.
The Los Angeles Times said this about Petraeus: "Although his selection does not come as a surprise, Petraeus is closely associated with the push for a more complex counterinsurgency campaign, which would move U.S. soldiers out of their large bases and into smaller outposts in troubled neighborhoods.
"Advocates of such a plan argue that it is the only way to gain the confidence of Iraqi civilians and protect them from attack. (Retiring Army Gen. John P.) Abizaid and (Gen. George W.) Casey have resisted such moves, arguing that a more visible U.S. presence would inflame locals and prevent Iraqi forces from shouldering the security burden.
The newspaper also quoted retired Gen. Barry McCaffrey as saying, "Dave Petraeus may be the most talented person I ever met. He's got phenomenal intellectual gifts."
Petraeus would be in line for a promotion from a three-star general to a four-star general, which must win congressional approval.
For more on Petraeus' new assignment, check the Military Matters blog at lansingcurrent.com and pick up the Jan. 11 edition of The Current.
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