Iraq, Afghanistan Remain ‘Main Effort’ in Terror War, Lute Says
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, June 7, 2007 The conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan represent the “main effort” in the war on terrorism, a general nominated as a top administration official said today.
Army Lt. Gen. Douglas E. Lute spoke before the Senate Armed Services Committee as part of the confirmation process to be assistant to the president and deputy national security advisor for Iraq and Afghanistan. The position is a new one, and the press has reduced the title to “war czar.” Lute is currently the Joint Staff’s operations director.
Lute said the greater Middle East and Central Asia regions will not succeed if Iraq and Afghanistan do not succeed.
“The stakes for these two countries are certainly high, as they are for all the countries in the region,” he said in his opening statement before the committee. “But the stakes for the United States are also high.”
If confirmed for the new position, Lute would report directly to President Bush. “I will brief him daily, and I will act on his instructions in fulfilling my duties,” Lute said. “I will work closely with National Security Advisor Steve Hadley to clarify priorities, establish milestones, provide follow-through and set the policy development agenda.”
The president officially nominated Lute to the new position May 15. Lute has met with members of Congress since then to discuss the nomination and legislators’ concerns. He said all people he has spoken with are concerned for the well-being and safety of U.S. personnel serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The new position is designed to advise the president on how to provide U.S. personnel with increased, focused, full-time support in Washington. “It will do so in two ways: by executing policy decisions comprehensively and by developing policy adaptations for use on the ground,” Lute said.
He said the status quo, especially in Iraq, is not acceptable. “To change this, we are in the midst of executing a shift in course as announced by the president in January,” he said.
Early results for the Baghdad security plan are mixed, Lute said. Iraq is a complicated area, and fixing a problem in one place may uncover others somewhere else. “But one factor remains constant: the dedication and sacrifice of our men and women, military and civilian, serving in these combat zones,” he said. “They are a continuing inspiration to me and to my family.”