General Pace to Step Down as Chairman of Joint Chiefs
In a surprise move, The Secretary of Defense is replacing the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (CJCS), Marine General Pace, with Navy Admiral Michael Mullen. This is being done for political reasons, rather than job performance. General Pace is the only Marine to hold the position of CJCS.
Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates announced today that Marine Gen. Peter W. Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, will step down at the end of his two-year term in September, a decision Gates said he made to avoid possibly contentious re-nomination hearings before the Democratically-controlled Congress.
The surprise announcement means Pace will be removed from the nation’s top military post after just two years as chairman, the shortest tenure for a general officer since 1964. Virtually all of the 16 chairmen since 1949 have served at least four years.
So technically he isn’t being re-nominated for a second 2-year term.
Gates said he has recommended that President Bush nominate Adm. Michael G. Mullen, chief of naval operations, as the next chairman of the joint chiefs for the term that begins Oct. 1. Mullen is the longest serving of the service branch chiefs of staff.
“Longest serving” means just under 2 years, having replaced Adm Vern Clark July 22, 2005 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Mullen He will be the first Navy Admiral CJCS since the end of the Cold War (not counting a few of weeks in 1993 where ADM Jeremiah was acting CJCS).
Gates said that political considerations were at the root of his decision. He said he spoke to leaders on Capitol Hill and was warned that re-nomination hearings likely would focus on the Iraq war and would be a “very contentious process.” …. He is one of the last remaining leadership figures from former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld’s tenure at the Pentagon.
So we have the appearance of a fresh start in the Pentagon. Anyone associated with Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz or the neocons has been purged.
Answering the obvious question of how both the CJCS and the Vice Chairman can both be Navy,
Edmund Giambastiani, vice-chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, recently announced that he planned to retire at the end of his term, giving Gates the opportunity to appoint a new leadership team for the armed services. Gates said he has recommended that Marine Gen. James Cartwright be nominated to replace him.
I expect a Marine was selected again for political reasons, to show that this move is not intended as a rebuke to the USMC. Gen Cartwright is the Commander of STRATCOM in Omaha, where he has been since 2004. The open slots now are the Navy’s top position and USSTRATCOM. I would not be surprised to see ADM Giambastiani nominated for CNO despite his retirement announcement, but there are many other contenders.