Failure in Iraq
Ashley Gilbertson for The New York Times
Lt. Gen. David H. Petraeus in Iraq in 2004.
He will replace Gen. George W. Casey Jr., whose
plan for troop reductions has faltered.
Bush to Name a New General to Oversee Iraq
By MICHAEL R. GORDON and THOM SHANKER
Published: January 5, 2007
WASHINGTON, Jan. 4 — President Bush has decided to name Lt. Gen. David H. Petraeus as the top American military commander in Iraq, part of a broad revamping of the military team that will carry out the administration’s new Iraq strategy, administration officials said Thursday.
In addition to the promotion of General Petraeus, who will replace Gen. George W. Casey Jr., the choice to succeed Gen. John P. Abizaid as the head of the Central Command is expected to be Adm. William J. Fallon, who is the top American military officer in the Pacific, officials said.
The changes are being made as the White House is considering an option to increase American combat power in Baghdad by five brigades as well as adding two battalions of reinforcements to the volatile province of Anbar in western Iraq.
Mr. Bush, who said Thursday that he would present details of his overall strategy for Iraq next week, and several top aides held a video teleconference on Thursday, speaking with Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki of Iraq and his top deputies about plans to add forces in the capital and other matters. The session lasted roughly an hour and 45 minutes.
“I said that ‘You show the will, we will help you,’ ” Mr. Bush told reporters.
Echoing the comments of both military and political advisers in recent weeks, he added, “One thing is for certain: I will want to make sure that the mission is clear and specific and can be accomplished.”
Senior administration officials said that the choice of General Petraeus was part of a broader effort to change almost all of the top American officials in Iraq as Mr. Bush changes his strategy there.
“The idea is to put the whole new team in at roughly the same time, and send some clear messages that we are trying a new approach,” a senior administration official said Thursday.
In addition to the military changes, Mr. Bush intends to appoint the ambassador to Iraq, Zalmay Khalilzad, as the new United States ambassador to the United Nations, a senior administration official said Thursday.
“It was clearly time to move the players around on the field,” said the senior official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because Mr. Bush had yet to announce the changes. “This helps the president to make the case that this is a fresh start.”
Admiral Fallon would be the first Navy officer to serve as the senior officer of the Central Command, which is managing simultaneous ground wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Admiral Fallon is regarded within the military as one of its stronger regional combat commanders, and his possible appointment also reflects a greater emphasis on countering Iranian power, a mission that relies heavily on naval forces and combat airpower to project American influence in the Persian Gulf.
General Petraeus, who is now the head of the Army’s Combined Arms Center at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., helped oversee the drafting of the military’s comprehensive new manual on counterinsurgency. He has served two previous tours in Iraq, and some former officers say he sees the need for additional troops in Baghdad.
But even as commander of the 101, by the time of the end of his stay in Mosul, his units were taking losses.
Dave Petreus talks a great game, but has failed repeatedly in Iraq. His second tour, was, in effect, a diaster. The Iraqi Army is now factionalized and useless. The officers still think they're fighting Iranians. Many of the troops have other loyalties.
He's gonna play Jacques Massu in Baghdad and fail because the Mahdi Army now runs most of the city and the government. The government and most of the police and Army are now loyal to Sadr, as the execution of Saddam shows.
posted by Steve @ 2:05:00 AM