LTG Doug Lute Appointed War Czar

LTG Doug Lute War Czar Photo In this photo released by the Department of Defense, U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Douglas Lute, director for operations, the Joint Staff, conducts a Pentagon operational update briefing Feb. 9, 2007, in Washington. According to an administration official President Bush on May 15, 2007, chose Lute to oversee the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as After a long search in which he was reportedly turned down by several four star generals, President Bush has found his war czar in the J3’s office: Army LTG Douglas E. Lute. Presuming he is confirmed by the Senate, “Lute would have the rank of assistant to the president and deputy national security adviser, and would report directly to the president. His job, which is part of a broader reorganization of the National Security Council staff responsible for Iraq and Afghanistan, would be to brief Mr. Bush every day on the two conflicts, and work with other government agencies — including the Pentagon and the State Department — to carry out policy.”

I expressed dubiousness about the whole idea of a war czar when it was first floated and the appointment of a 3-star who is currently running operations for the Joint Staff doesn’t win me over. I couldn’t agree more with Phil Carter‘s analysis on this one.

My only caveat is a minor one: While it sounds odd to appoint a 3-star to a position that requires coordination of cabinet secretaries and layers of 4-stars, it’s hardly unprecedented. Indeed, Lute would be a deputy NSA and 3-stars, including Colin Powell and John Poindexter, have held the NSA slot. It theoretically violates every principal of the chain of command but it’s been done.

FILED UNDER: Iraq War, Military Affairs, , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. davod says:

    This is a sign that Bush wants to distance himself from a pullout.

    They will be out before the next election.

    Look to the Iraqis seeing the writing on the wall and moving away from the Us. After all, they have to live in the region after we leave them to their friendly neighbors.

  2. Michael says:

    Lute would be a deputy NSA and 3-stars, including Colin Powell and John Poindexter, have held the NSA slot.

    Yes, but were Powell and Pointexter chosen because they were better than the 4-stars, or because they were the first ones to not turn down the position?

  3. Triumph says:

    This is great news. Its clear that the evildoers are going to be shaking in their boots when they hear we have a war czar! Freedom is on the march!

  4. Michael says:

    On the flip side of the coin, I read that Lute was opposed to the surge, quite possibly why he wasn’t the first choice. Given this President’s ability to choose highly competent (heck of a job) people for important positions, maybe there is a ray of hope in the fact that all his first choices turned him down.

  5. Anderson says:

    To be excessively serious for a moment:

    The whole “czar” thing is silly. As if the tsars were effective autocrats? Why would we pick the title of the most backward monarchy in Olde Europe for our “getting-things-done” guy?

    As it turns out, this “czar” will have even less authority than the so-called autocrat, who was in practice a slave to his bureaucracy.

  6. Michael says:

    The whole “czar” thing is silly. As if the tsars were effective autocrats? Why would we pick the title of the most backward monarchy in Olde Europe for our “getting-things-done” guy?

    Because for some reason, people have a negative reaction to having a “War Fuehrer”?

  7. legion says:

    This whole thing is so pathetic.

    In choosing Lute, Bush picked a key internal voice of dissent during the administration review that led to the troop increase. Reflecting the views of other members of the Joint Chiefs, Lute argued that a short-term “surge” would do little good and that any sustained increase in forces had to be matched by equal emphasis on political and economic steps, according to officials informed about the deliberations.

    Um, isn’t that what a lot of generals told Bush the _last_ time he said he was going to “listen to the commanders”, back around last September? You know, just before Bush completely ignored them & stuck with “stay the course”? Isn’t that largely what the ISG suggested? Before Bush ignored them too? Why does a single 3-star saying something give anyone hope, when a fistful of 4-stars have already been steamrolled?

    And here’s another question – what are all those over-ruled 4-stars going to do if Bush really does this just because “Lute says”? Will we see more senior officers retiring in disgust a la Eaton and Batiste?

    This is a sign that Bush wants to distance himself from a pullout.

    While this would clearly be the tool to do that with (creating a scapegoat so the Decider/Commander Guy can blame someone else for his own failures yet again), I just don’t see it in Bush’s character to let go…

  8. So who will deliver the first Lute fisk?

  9. Anderson says:

    Obviously, Cheney counts on being able to play this guy like a Lute.

  10. Tlaloc says:

    So far I agree with the things I’ve heard from Lute. Much like Petraeus he seems to understand that this is not a fight won by superior firepower.

    Unfortunately, just like Petraeus, he’s now in the position of taking orders directly from people for whom “superior firepower” is the only way to fight.

    So I guess it’s got the markings of a Tragedy- the guys smart enough to make an effort to recoup the losses we’ve suffered are finally in place, and still can do nothing because they are constrained by the idiots who botched it int he first place.

  11. Anderson says:

    Petraeus sounded good, too, *before* he was put on the pedestal.

  12. Tlaloc says:

    Petraeus sounded good, too, *before* he was put on the pedestal.

    That’s what I’m saying, I think they are both smart officers who are now put in an impossible position because their bosses are utterly incompetent.

  13. mannning says:

    I presume that Lute will get a fourth star out of this position, together with sufficient authority to effect things. He just might be the first five-star since I don’t remember when. Marshal of the Armies or some such.

    Bush finds a new general. I thought that CENTCOM had charge of Iraq and Afghanistan. Confusing, if this adds a layer of command.