The recommendation was expected to be approved by President
George Bush. From there, the Senate must approve the nomination.
"The kinds of conflicts we are dealing with not just in Iraq, but in
Afghanistan and some of the challenges that we face elsewhere in the region
in the CentCom area, are very much characterized by asymmetric warfare,"
Gates said. "And I don't know anybody in the United States military better
qualified [than Petraeus] to lead that effort."
Officials said Petraeus would remain in Iraq up to October 2008 to
ensure a smooth transfer of responsibility to Odierno. Gates said he
expected Petraeus to evaluate ground conditions in wake of a 45-day pause,
scheduled to begin after the final surge forces withdraw from Iraq.
"I would expect that General Petraeus would carry out not only the
evaluation, but that first decision in terms of are we able to draw down
another brigade combat team or not, depending on conditions on the ground,"
The selection of a Central Command chief has sparked a new round of
appointments in the U.S. military in Iraq. Gates named Lt. Gen. Raymond
Odierno as the replacement for Petraeus in Iraq. Odierno has been the No. 2
U.S. commander in that Arab country.
"I believe in most parts of the world, especially the Middle East,
personal relationships make a difference," Gates said. "And General Odierno
is known recently to the Iraqi leadership, he's known to the Iraqi generals,
he's known to our own people. He has current experience, so the likelihood
of him being able to pick up for this baton-passing to be smooth — the odds
of that are better with him than with anybody else I could identify."
Odierno had been nominated as U.S. Army vice chief of staff. Officials
said the nomination would be withdrawn, and Lt. Gen. Peter Chiarelli,
currently military advisor to Gates, would serve as army vice chief.
Chiarelli has also spent much of the last five years as a senior commander