Petraeus to CENTCOM, Odierno to Iraq Chief

Presuming Senate confirmation, the top Iraq commanders are both moving up one slot, with David Petraeus taking over Central Command, and thus oversight of the Iraq and Afghanistan campaigns, and Ray Odierno picking up a fourth star and the top job in Iraq.

Petraeus to CENTCOM, Odierno to Iraq Chief U.S. military commander in Iraq General David Petraeus salutes during the 77th Iraqi Air Force day celebration in Baghdad's Muttana air base April 22, 2008. (Thaier al-Sudani/Reuters)

Bush will nominate Petraeus to replace Navy Adm. William J. Fallon as chief of U.S. Central Command, Defense Secretary Robert Gates announced Wednesday. The command’s area of responsibility features some of the most vexing military and foreign policy problems facing this administration and its successor — including Iran, Pakistan, Lebanon, parts of Africa and Afghanistan in addition to Iraq.


Petraeus would be succeeded at a pivotal time in Baghdad by Army Lt. Gen. Ray Odierno, who was the No. 2 commander in Iraq for 15 months. He has been credited by many with deftly managing security gains that Petraeus told Congress this month have opened a pathway for potential political progress in the country.

The AP’s David Burns says the result is “keeping the U.S. on its war course and handing the next president a pair of combat-tested commanders who have relentlessly defended Bush’s strategies.” Then again, there was no chance that we were leaving the “war course,” so this just means that two incredibly competent men are receiving well-earned promotions.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. davod says:

    The key is who gets the fighting slots in Iraq.

  2. Triumph says:

    This was probably done by Bush to help McCain–since “Mr. Military Experience” told the AP a couple of weeks ago that if he were president he wouldn’t shift troops from Iraq to Afghanistan without Petraeus’ analysis of the need in Afghanistan.

    Of course, at the time of McCain’s weird statement, Petraeus had no authority over Afghanistan.

    Now if we could only get Al Quaeda in Iraq to be allies with Iran, reality will then nicely match McCain’s uninformed impressions of the world.

  3. James Joyner says:

    match McCain’s uninformed impressions of the world.

    That occurred to me as well when I heard the news yesterday afternoon.

    Still, McCain surely knows the chain of command over there. He’s briefed by and visits these people all the time. The better, and probably no less flattering, explanation for the flub is that the Republicans have gotten so used to saying “I’ll take my cue from Petraeus” that it’s become a verbal tick.

  4. Mike says:


    So, your are saying Mr. McCain should not ask the opinion of the most successful counter-insurgency general officer currently in the field for his opinion?

    Don’t you think Combatant Commanders talk to each other? Do you think there is no coordination between the two concerning resources and threats? It’s called looking at your area of interest. Enemy tactics, techniques migrate from operational theater to operational theater.

    Don’t you think Mr. McCain hasn’t already thought about who he wanted in charge if/when he is elected?

    On the other hand, if this is your big event for the week – the republican candidate is secure in his race.