It Begins…And I Don’t Mean the New Year

It Begins….in Iran, with this news, as the US ramps up its force projection capabilities in the inevitable showdown with Iran, discussed in this post. 

It Begins…in Washington, with this letter from Pelosi and Reid. The key paragraph:

Rather than deploy additional forces to Iraq, we believe the way
forward is to begin the phased redeployment of our forces in the next
four to six months, while shifting the principal mission of our forces
there from combat to training, logistics, force protection and
counter-terror.  A renewed diplomatic strategy, both within the region
and beyond, is also required to help the Iraqis agree to a sustainable
political settlement.  In short, it is time to begin to move our forces
out of Iraq and make the Iraqi political leadership aware that our
commitment is not open ended, that we cannot resolve their sectarian
problems, and that only they can find the political resolution required
to stabilize Iraq.

It Begins…in Iraq, with a change in the military leadership, link from In From the Cold

More intriguing is Mr.
Bush’s apparent choice to succeed General John Abizaid as Commander of
U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM), which controls all of our military
forces in the Middle East
. Breaking with tradition, President Bush
will reportedly named Admiral William Fallon to succeed Abizaid, who
plans to retire in March. Fallon is currently commander of U.S. Pacific
Command (PACOM), where he has won plaudits for his handling of military
issues relating to the region’s biggest threats–China and North Korea.
Admiral Fallon
spent most of his career as an aviator and is something of a rarity
among the Navy’s senior leaders–he is not an Annapolis graduate.
Fallon earned his commission through the naval ROTC program at Villanova in 1967.

Until
now, leadership at CENTCOM has rotated between Army and Marine Corps
generals. The nomination of Admiral Fallon may be another harbinger of
the "new" approach in Iraq and the wider War on Terror, using a wider
range of military assets to fight insurgents on various fronts.
Fallon’s appointment also suggests a growing concern with regional
issues–namely, Iran’s nuclear program–that may ultimately require
some sort of U.S. military action. Fallon’s nomination comes amid
reports that the U.S. Navy is planning to increase its presence in the
Persian Gulf region, with the addition of another carrier battle group.
Given his experience in managing forces across the Pacific, the White
House–and new Defense Secretary Robert Gates –may believe that Fallon
is better suited for implementing a strategy, particularly as it
relates to the Middle East as a whole.

To replace General George
Casey as our senior commander in Iraq, Mr. Bush has tapped the most
logical choice: Army Lieutenant General David Petraeus. We’ve written
about General Petraeus on several occasions, most recently when word of Abizaid’s retirement was announced last month.
We thought–and still believe–that Petraeus would be an excellent
choice to lead CENTCOM, but he’s still a relatively "junior"
three-star, and it would be difficult for him to catapult over more
senior officers to get a fourth star and the CINC’s job. That will
happen, in time–just not right now.

This will be General
Petraeus’s third tour in Iraq. He led the 101st Airborne Division
during the 2003 invasion, and later salvaged failing efforts to train
the Iraqi Army. Petraeus is one of the Army’s leading experts on
counter-insurgency operations, and he reportedly supports a more
aggressive approach to the War in Iraq, including an increase in troop
strength. In short, he’s the right man for the right job at exactly the
right time. As for General Casey, there had been talk that he’s on the
inside track to be the next Army Chief of Staff, but those rumors have
quieted in recent weeks. Like Abizaid, he now appears headed for
retirement.

It Begins…at the College of Charleston, for your scribe, on this date:

         

Monday, 8 Maymester and Summer Sessions Registration begins

For all parties, it’s sure to be a tense beginning to 2007, with lofty goals, seemingly insurmountable obstacles, and great rewards for perseverance.

Stay tuned.

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