At a time when the United States is engaged in protracted ground wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, one of the worst moves the Bush administration could make is to appoint someone with no background in land warfare to oversee these operations. In another baffling move, President Bush has decided to do just that, by replacing retiring Army General John Abizaid, the current head of Central Command, with Navy Admiral William J. Fallon.
Since its inception, Central Command, which oversees the Middle East and South Central Asia, has been led only by a Army or Marine Corps General. The Navy has been largely on the sidelines while the Army and the Marine Corps have borne the brunt of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan; both are starting to crack under the strain. Admiral Fallon is a fine officer and by all accounts has done a good job as head of the Pacific Command, the Navy’s traditional area of responsibility. But with little background in the Middle East or land warfare, his appointment appears to be based more on diffusing opposition to the military escalation in Iraq than on what is best for the soldiers and Marines on the ground and the country.
Set to make the disastrous decision to escalate our presence in Iraq, the President is in need of a military commander to support his decision. While General Abizaid publicly opposed the surge in troop levels in Iraq, it would be surprising if Admiral Fallon is not more agreeable.
(Jeff Huber has more.)