Defense Secretary Gates Announces Recommendations to the President on Key Leadership Positions
“Today, I am announcing my recommendations to the President for nomination to key command and leadership positions in our nation's Armed Forces. America is truly blessed for the service of the outstanding men who are leaving their current posts, and for the superb officers who have stepped forward to take their place.
“Generals Pete Schoomaker and John Abizaid are retiring after decades of selfless and accomplished service to the nation.
“General Schoomaker was in retirement during the summer of 2003 when he received a call from Secretary Rumsfeld asking him to become the Army’s 35th chief of staff. He would go on to direct the most effective and comprehensive transformation of the U.S. Army in decades – taking it from a garrison and division based service to an expeditionary force of more lethal, autonomous, and agile brigade combat teams. He strengthened the Army’s Guard and Reserve components with new funding, equipment, and training. As Chief of Staff, General Schoomaker led the effort to inculcate the Army’s “warrior ethos” across all branches and all components. A special operations officer, he participated in the Desert One rescue mission in Iran and would go on to lead the U.S. Special Operations Command before his first retirement.
“As a result of General Schoomaker’s vision and leadership, the transformation of the Army is well on its way, to the benefit of our soldiers, their families, and the safety of our nation. Every American is in General Schoomaker’s debt for his willingness to return to active service and embrace such a daunting assignment at a critical time in our nation’s history. We all join in saying thanks to Pete Schoomaker for his service above and beyond the call of duty.
“There is no officer at this time better suited to be Army Chief of Staff than General George Casey. A former Vice Chief of Staff, General Casey has the unique experience of having served at the highest levels on both the institutional and operational side of the Army. As commander of Multi-National Forces – Iraq, he has overseen the largest sustained ground forces operation by the U.S. military in a generation. General Casey knows first hand the capabilities the U.S. Army must have to succeed in the complex and unconventional campaigns of the 21st Century. I am grateful for General Casey’s extraordinary service and sacrifice – he has been in Iraq for 30 straight months – and subject to Senate confirmation, he’ll be superb as the next chief of staff of the U.S. Army.
“I am also recommending that Lieutenant General Dave Petraeus be promoted and succeed General Casey as commander of Multi-National Forces – Iraq. Currently the commander of the Army’s Combined Arms Center in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, General Petraeus has long been considered one of the most dynamic and innovative leaders in the U.S. military. As commander of the 101st Airborne Division in Mosul – Iraq’s third largest city –General Petraeus oversaw a multifaceted program that within months established local government, restarted the local economy, and stood up local security forces. He would later stay on in Iraq to launch and lead the coalition’s program to train and equip Iraq’s army and police.
“General Petraeus is an expert in irregular warfare and stability operations, and recently supervised the publication of the first Army and Marine counterinsurgency manual in two decades. Dave Petraeus has been leading the effort to rewrite the military’s doctrine for defeating an insurgency, and, subject to confirmation, he’ll bring all the tools to enable Iraqi and coalition forces to create a stable and secure Iraq. He is the right man to lead our forces in Iraq at this critical juncture.
“In departing Central Command, General John Abizaid will cap what has been one of the most storied military careers in recent memory. In his 33 years of active service, General Abizaid led a company of Rangers in Grenada during Operation Urgent Fury, commanded a battalion of paratroopers deployed to Northern Iraq after Operation Desert Storm, and served as division commander of the “Big Red One”- the U.S. Army’s First Infantry Division.
“General Abizaid possesses a rare expertise and understanding of the Middle East – the complexities of its culture, the aspirations of its people, and the nature of the threat posed by violent extremism to the region and to the world. As Centcom commander, he oversaw historic efforts to secure, rebuild and establish representative governments in societies – Iraq and Afghanistan – that had been traumatized by decades of war and dictatorship. I extend the heartfelt thanks and appreciation of the American people to General Abizaid for his extraordinary service and accomplishments.
“I am proposing to the President that Admiral William Fallon succeed General John Abizaid as commander of Central Command.
“As Commander of Pacific Command, Admiral Fallon oversees military operations and security relationships in an area encompassing 43 countries and approximately 60 percent of the world’s population. Admiral Fallon’s tenure in Asia has been characterized by an extraordinary level of innovation and strategic vision in dealing with a range of political, economic and security challenges. He has forged new partnerships to help combat the influence of violent extremist networks and ideologies that threaten the moderate Muslim nations of the Pacific. A naval flight officer who flew combat missions in Vietnam, Admiral Fallon combines nearly four decades of military experience with a fresh perspective to the challenges America faces in the Central Command’s area of operations.
“Fox Fallon is one of the best strategic thinkers in uniform today and his reputation for innovation is without peer. Subject to confirmation, he is exactly the right person for this most challenging assignment.
“I believe that it is essential to have individuals of experience, skill and creativity in key national security positions. However, it is also critical to have a team of individuals whose mix of experience, skills, creativity, and strategic vision make the whole greater than the sum of the individual parts. I have recommended these three men to the President for these positions because I am convinced they have these talents.
“We are engaged in three wars – in Iraq, Afghanistan, and against jihadist terrorism worldwide. As secretary of defense, and as a citizen, I firmly believe that Generals Petraeus and Casey and Admiral Fallon, as individuals and as a team, bring to the challenges that face us the qualities necessary to be successful in war and to protect the American people. After detailed discussions of these prospective appointments with the President, I have recommended these three officers to him for nomination to the U.S. Senate.”