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Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Petraeus plans region-wide strategic assessment for new president

WASHINGTON — The incoming U.S. Central Command is taking a hard look at a troubled region and has formed a team to conduct a strategic assessment of the Middle East and Central Asia and ways to revise and implement U.S. government policy.

President Bush meets with Gen. David Petraeus, former Commander of the Multi-National Force in Iraq, on Sept. 17, 2008, in the Oval Office of the White House. AP/Pablo Martinez Monsivais
The assessment was ordered by incoming Centcom chief Gen. David Petraeus, scheduled to begin his post on Oct. 31.

"This is the way Petraeus thinks: He intends to come into office with a vision and strategy," an official said.

Officials said the review would include the U.S. presence in Iraq as well as threats from Iran. They said the review would be concluded in early 2009.

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The review would be conducted by a team of up to 100 analysts from the military, government and academia. Petraeus has appointed Col. H.R. McMaster, a regiment commander in Iraq, to lead the Joint Strategic Assessment Team.

Officials said the Defense Department and State Department would help in the Centcom review. They said the review would be similar to the strategic assessment team formed by Petraeus in 2007 when he was appointed commander of the U.S. military in Iraq.

"The review would come just in time for the next president and would be vital for U.S. strategies in Iraq and Afghanistan," the official said.

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