Gates Makes Recommendations for Filling Key Military Roles
By Samantha L. Quigley
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Jan. 5, 2007 Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates today announced his recommendations to President Bush for nominations to fill key military leadership and command positions.
Gates recommended that U.S. Navy Adm. William J. "Fox" Fallon, commander of U.S. Pacific Command, succeed U.S. Army Gen. John Abizaid as commander of the U.S. Central Command. Abizaid has commanded CENTCOM since July 7, 2003 and is due to retire this spring.
“In departing Central Command, Gen. John Abizaid will cap what has been one of the most storied military careers in recent memory,” Gates said in a press release.
Gates called Fallon the right person to take over from Abizaid.
“A naval flight officer who flew combat missions in Vietnam, Admiral Fallon combines nearly four decades of military experience with fresh perspective to the challenges America faces in the Central Command’s area of operations," Gates said. “Fox Fallon is one of the best strategic thinkers in uniform today and his reputation for innovation is without peer.”
Gates also recommended Army Lt. Gen. David Petraeus to succeed Army Gen. George Casey as commander of Multinational Force Iraq.
He recommended Casey, in turn, for appointment as the new U.S. Army chief of staff, to replace Gen. Peter Schoomaker.
Former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld called Schoomaker from retirement in 2003 to serve in the top Army post. Casey served as Schoomaker’s vice chief of staff before becoming commander of ground forces in Iraq.
Petreus has served as commander of the U.S. Army Combined Arms Center and Fort Leavenworth, Kan., since Oct. 20, 2005.
Before that, he served three critical missions in Iraq: commanding the 101th Airborne Division, the Multinational Security Transition Command and the NATO Training Mission Iraq.
Petraeus led the 101st Division in Mosul during the first year of Iraqi Freedom. In that role, he “oversaw a multifaceted program that within months established local government, restarted the local economy, and stood up local security forces,” Gates noted today.
Petraeus served as the first commander of the Multinational Security Transition Command from June 2004 to September 2005 and commanded the NATO Training Mission Iraq from October 2004 through September 2005.
As he launched and led the coalition’s program to train and equip Iraq’s army and police, Petraeus has been leading the effort to rewrite the military’s doctrine for defeating the insurgency, Gates said.
Casey, who has served as commander of Multinational Force Iraq since July 2004, is the right person to hold the top Army uniformed position, Gates said.
“There is no officer at this time better suited to be Army chief of staff than Gen. George Casey,” Gates said. “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.”
Gates praised Schoomaker, who has served as the Army chief of staff since, Aug. 1, 2003.
“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,” Gates said. “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.”
Gates noted the mix of experience, skills, creativity and strategic vision that is essential in key national security positions, and said Casey, Petraeus, and Fallon possess these talents.
“We are engaged in three wars – in Iraq, Afghanistan, and against jihadist terrorism worldwide,” Gates said. “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.”