Rowan Scarborough reports,
Senior U.S. officials are actively discussing reorganizing the U.S. military command in Iraq by appointing a four-star officer to oversee the Pentagon’s role in moving the country to self-rule.
Iraq military operations are now directed at the tactical level by a three-star officer, Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez. He, in turn, reports to Gen. John Abizaid, who, as U.S. Central Command chief, has responsibility for military operations not only in Iraq but throughout the region.
The sources said a new four-star would bring added clout and focus to the strategic goals of integrating the emerging 220,000-person Iraq security force with the new local government scheduled to take power July 1. The commander would also coordinate military relations with whatever succeeds the current Coalition Provisional Authority now led by L. Paul Bremer.
This would leave the three-star, or corps commander, to focus on winning the war against an insurgency made up of Saddam Hussein loyalists and foreign terrorists.
While I can understand separating the administrative role from the day-to-day command role, I’m not sure that a 4-star officer is necessary for the job. Indeed, I’m not sure what it is the new guy would do that Paul Bremer can’t do now as a civilian.
This move is interesting as well:
The military also plans to announce a name change at some point, striking the word “New” from the “New Iraqi Army.” The army is one of five separate Iraq security forces being established by the coalition. Washington wants the units to take an increasingly larger role in fighting crime and the insurgents. The other forces are the police, the Facilities Protective Services, the Iraqi Border Police and the Iraqi Civil Defense Corps.
This is a PR issue, more than anything else. I’m not sure at what time “new” is no longer “new” but normal. But now that the transition to nominal Iraqi control is underway, the move makes sense.