Archive for the ‘chain of command’ Category

A Centcom Chief Who Spoke His Mind

March 13, 2008

By David Ignatius
The Washington Post
Thursday, March 13, 2008; Page A17

The first thing that many of Adm. William Fallon’s colleagues note about him is that he’s a Navy officer. By that, they mean he has the stubborn self-confidence, some would say arrogance, that is part of command at sea.
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He knows how to wear his dress whites and receive a snappy salute — and he likes telling people off when he thinks they’re wrong.

Those headstrong qualities were part of why Fallon was chosen to run Central Command, arguably the most important senior post in the U.S. military today.
Adm. William Fallon in Mosul, Iraq, last fall.

Adm. William Fallon in Mosul, Iraq, last fall.
(By Brian Murphy — Associated Press)
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And they explain why Fallon finally crashed and burned Tuesday, tendering his resignation after his blunt comments to an Esquire magazine writer had gotten him into one too many conflicts with the White House and the military brass.
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Stories about Fallon’s resignation focused mostly on his rejection of administration saber-rattling on Iran. “I expect that there will be no war, and that is what we ought to be working for,” he told al-Jazeera last fall when war fever was high. But there’s less of a gap between Fallon and the administration on Iran than those comments suggested.
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Top administration officials have made clear for months that they know there isn’t a good U.S. military option against Iran.Fallon’s problems were less dramatic — but they go to the heart of what America should want from its senior military leaders.
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After what many viewed as the overly deferential style of the two previous chairmen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Air Force Gen. Richard Myers and Marine Gen. Peter Pace, the White House decided to go for something different in a senior commander — a guy with a mouth that could peel the paint off the walls.

I have traveled with Fallon several times since he became Centcom commander and have talked at length with him, so perhaps I can offer a glimpse into the flap over his premature retirement.
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Fallon’s early friction was with Gen. David Petraeus, whom President Bush had trusted with the implementation of the U.S. troop surge in Iraq. Their turf war was ironic because Petraeus had supported Fallon for the job. But the new Centcom chief bristled at his nominal subordinate’s close relationship with the White House, and it made for an awkward chain of command.

The tension was evident in May when I traveled to Baghdad with Fallon. He brought me into all his meetings with Iraqi officials, despite objections from some Green Zone politicos. Those fractious discussions reinforced Fallon’s worry that the vaunted troop surge, while clearly improving Iraqi security, wasn’t creating the space for national political reconciliation.

In a May 15 piece from Baghdad, I quoted an upbeat Petraeus: “How long does reconciliation take? That’s the long pole in the tent.” I asked Fallon if he had an assessment of his own, and he said, specifically rebutting Petraeus: “We’re chipping away at the problem. But we don’t have the time to chip away. Reconciliation isn’t likely in the time we have available, but some form of accommodation is a must.”

By last fall, it was clear….

Read the rest:
 http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/03/12/AR2008031203395.html?hpid=opinionsbox1

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General defends report, integrity

September 11, 2007

By S.A. Miller and Eric Pfeiffer
September 11, 2007

Army Gen. David H. Petraeus began his highly anticipated report on the Iraq war yesterday by asserting his independence and rebuking attacks on his integrity by Democrats and antiwar groups.

“It has not been cleared by, nor shared with, anyone in the Pentagon, the White House or the Congress until it was just handed out,” Gen. Petraeus, U.S. commander in Iraq, said of his assessment of the war.
Ahead of his presentation to a House panel, Democrats portrayed the general as a flunky for President Bush who couldn’t be trusted to tell the truth about the war.
The attacks on his character culminated yesterday with MoveOn.org buying a full-page ad in the New York Times that read: “General Petraeus or General Betray Us? Cooking the books for the White House.”
Calls for Democratic congressional leaders to denounce the MoveOn.org ad went unheeded….

Read it all:
http://www.washingtontimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070911/NATION/109110071/1001

Crocker, Petraeus Testify Before Congress

September 10, 2007

“You men; are the all star team.”

— Congressman

Ambassador Ryan Crocker and General David Patraeus gave tertimony today reflecting their view of America’s efforts in Iraq.
Gen. David Petraeus waits to testify on Capitol Hill in Washington, Monday, Sept. 10, 2007, before the House Armed Services Committee hearing on the future course of the war in Iraq. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh) 
“I cannot guarantee our success in Iraq,” said Mr. Crocker, the chief of U.S. Mission in Iraq.“I only know if we leave we fail.”Gen. David Petraeus told Congress on Monday he envisions the withdrawal of roughly 30,000 U.S. combat troops from Iraq by next summer.the commanding general of the war said last winter’s buildup in U.S. troops had met its military objectives “in large measure.”As a result, he told a congressional hearing and a nationwide television audience, “I believe that we will be able to reduce our forces to the pre-surge level … by next summer without jeopardizing the security gains we have fought so hard to achieve.”Testifying in his military uniform bearing the four general’s stars of his rank and a chestful of medals he has earned in war and peace, Petraeus said he had already provided his views to the military chain of command.Rebutting charges that he was merely doing the White House’s bidding, he said firmly, “I wrote this testimony myself. It has not been cleared by nor shared with anyone in the Pentagon, the White House or the Congress.”“Then military goal of the surge, are, in large measure being met.” “It is possible for us to achieve our goals in Iraq over time.”Petraeus said that a unit of about 2,000 Marines will depart Iraq later this month, beginning a drawdown that would be followed in mid-December with the departure of an Army brigade numbering 3,500 to 4,000 soldiers.After that, another four brigades would be withdrawn by July 2008, he said. That would leave the United States with about 130,000 troops in Iraq, roughly the number last winter when President Bush decided to dispatch additional forces.

Petraeus said a decision about further reductions would be made next March.

Using charts and graphs to illustrate his points, Petraeus conceded that the military gains have been uneven in the months since Bush ordered the buildup last winter.

But he also said that there has been an overall decline in violence and said, “the level of security incidents has declined in eight of the past 12 weeks, with the level of incidents in the past two weeks the lowest since June of 2006.”

Petraeus also said the Iraqi military is slowly gaining competence and gradually “taking on more responsibility for their security.”

He cited Anbar province as an example of Iraqis turning against terrorists, adding, “we are seeing similar actions in other locations as well.”

Petraeus’ testimony came at a pivotal moment in the war, with the Democratic-controlled Congress pressing for troop withdrawals and the Bush administration hoping to prevent wholesale Republican defections.

Bush and his political allies have worked forcefully in recent weeks to shore up Republican support. One organization with ties to the administration has spent millions on television advertisements, and Bush traveled to Anbar province last week to highlight improved security in the vast western stretches of Iraq.

Bush also called Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki in the hours before Petraeus spoke, and is expected to deliver a nationwide address on the war in the next few days.

Despite the administration’s efforts, fresh polls reflected significant public opposition to the war. A USA Today-Gallup poll taken in the past few days found that 60 percent of those surveyed favor setting a timetable for removing troops. Only 35 percent favor keeping the troops in Iraq until the situation improves.

Petraeus was one of two witnesses — Ambassador Ryan Crocker was the other — at a nationally televised hearing punctuated by numerous protests by anti-war demonstrators in the audience.

Over and over, Rep. Ike Skelton, the Missouri Democrat presiding, ordered police to remove the demonstrators. “This is intolerable,” he said at one point.

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The lawmakers arrayed on the dias across from him listened intently.