8 years ago
As reported by the Associated Press, General David Petraeus is becoming commander of CENTCOM, and Lt. Gen. Ray Odierno is headed back to Iraq to take over after the departure of Petraeus. The Captain’s Journal is fond of both Petraeus and Odierno, and we believe that the two taken together, regardless of how talented they might be individually, were more effective than either one could have been alone. They have been a powerfully effective team.
As we discussed in The War Over the Wars, we have well sourced reason to believe that notwithstanding personality issues or differences of opinion in going forward positions, one significant actor in the departure of Fallon was the degree to which the administration listened to the generals when it concerned tooling the force for the long war.
As Petraeus takes over CENTCOM, he inherits a campaign in Iraq that absolutely must be completed to ensure regional stability and the relative absence of militancy, while also squarely facing the problem of force size and Soldiers and Marines on their fourth and fifth combat tours. He also inherits a campaign in Afghanistan that not only languishes for forces and force projection, but in which NATO is an impediment to success rather than a catalyst. Strategy in the Afghanistan campaign is a byword and up for sale to the most troublesome child, and thus U.S. forces are in constant debates over everything from tactics to radio frequencies.
Odierno expands from his AO to a larger one. These two men are right for the job, right now. But it remains to be seen if they will force the hand of the Pentagon and administration to make it clear to the American public that the global war on terror will be successfully fought only at a cost.
They have both seen now first hand that forces are necessary to do the job of counterinsurgency in this part of the world and addressing the transnational nature of the enemy, and that more doctrine doesn’t help if the force size is not commensurate with the challenge. Will Petraeus and Odierno perform commensurate with their challenges?