Chief mil­i­tary ad­viser Pace’s fu­ture in doubt af­ter Pen­tagon shake-up

The Washington Times Weekly - - National - By Rowan Scar­bor­ough

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.

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