Chief military adviser Pace’s future in doubt after Pentagon shake-up
WithPresidentBushreplacinghis two top field generals for Iraq, speculation has arisen in the Pentagon aboutthelong-termfutureofhisprincipal military adviser, Marine Corps Gen. Peter Pace.
From the start, no other four-star generalhashadmoretodowithIraq war policy than Gen. Pace, the Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman handpicked byformerDefenseSecretaryDonald H. Rumsfeld.
Mr.Rumsfeldchosethehighlydecorated Marine as vice chairman in 2001. He promptly gave the disciplined Vietnam combatant a frontrow seat in his Pentagon office as strategy was set for the war on terror and the 2003 invasion that toppled Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.
Mr. Rumsfeld then elevated Gen. Pace as the first Marine to head the Joint Chiefs in September 2005. Unlike the four service chiefs who get four-year terms, the Senate confirms chairmenfortwoyearsatatime.The question some are asking inside the Pentagon is whether the president will nominate Gen. Pace later this year for a second term, as has been the tradition for chairman.
“Is the president going to root out allhisIraqadvisers?”isthewayadefensesourcedescribedspeculationin the Pentagon.
AWhiteHousespokesmanonJan. 5saidhedoesnotknowthepresident’s plans regarding Gen. Pace.
The speculation came as the Pentagon announced Defense Secretary RobertM.Gates’firstmajorchanges for the Iraq war since taking office.
Adm. William J. Fallon, the combatantcommanderforthePacificregion, will succeed Army Gen. John Abizaid,whoisretiring,asheadofU.S. Central Command. The command is the center of the war on Islamic ex- tremists,encompassingAfghanistan, Iraq, Iran and the Horn of Africa.
Gen.Fallon’sPacificCommandhas principal missions of watching Stalinist North Korea and communist China. Navy admirals have overseen ground operations in the Pacific, but Adm. Fallon will be the first naval officer to run wars in the Persian Gulf region, which is home to a large sea component headquartered in Bahrain.
Gen. George Casey, the top commander in Iraq, will be replaced by Lt. Gen. David Petraeus, who now headstheU.S.ArmyCombinedArms Center.Gen.CaseywillsucceedGen. Peter Schoomaker as Army chief of staff.
Gen. Petraeus led the 101st Airborne Division in the original invasion.Helatertookcommandoftraining an emerging Iraqi army and police force. He received high praise formakingprogressinthedifficultjob of building an Iraqi security force virtually from scratch.
Mr. Bush announced the resignation of Mr. Rumsfeld in November, saying he wanted a “fresh perspective” on an Iraq war that has seen more than 3,000 American troops killed amid extremely violent sectarian fighting.