From Think Progress:
During the Iraq war, the Central Command (CENTCOM) head — who leads U.S. operations in the entire Middle East region — and the Multinational Force Commander (MNF) have regularly testified together about the course of the war in Iraq.
In January, President Bush replaced Abizaid and Casey, who were “surge” skeptics, with Adm. William Fallon and Gen. David Petraeus. This week, Petraeus — in the first public hearings since taking on his new role — delivered his Iraq assessment to great media fanfare. But where was his boss, Admiral Fallon? Inter-Press Service suggests animosity between the two might be one reason for Fallon’s absence:
Fallon told Petraeus [in March] that he considered him to be “an ass-kissing little chickensh*t” and added, “I hate people like that”, the sources say. That remark reportedly came after Petraeus began the meeting by making remarks that Fallon interpreted as trying to ingratiate himself with a superior.
Sen. Jim Webb (D-VA) announced today that he will be asking Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI) to call Fallon to testify on “his views on the region.”
From the Washington Post:
For two hours, President Bush listened to contrasting visions of the U.S. future in Iraq. Gen. David H. Petraeus dominated the conversation by video link from Baghdad, making the case to keep as many troops as long as possible to cement any security progress. Adm. William J. Fallon, his superior, argued instead for accepting more risks in Iraq, officials said, in order to have enough forces available to confront other potential threats in the region.
The polite discussion in the White House Situation Room a week ago masked a sharper clash over the U.S. venture in Iraq, one that has been building since Fallon, chief of the U.S. Central Command, which oversees Middle East operations, sent a rear admiral to Baghdad this summer to gather information. Soon afterward, officials said, Fallon began developing plans to redefine the U.S. mission and radically draw down troops.
One of those plans, according to a Centcom officer, involved slashing U.S. combat forces in Iraq by three-quarters by 2010. In an interview, Fallon disputed that description but declined to offer details. Nonetheless, his efforts offended Petraeus’s team, which saw them as unwelcome intrusion on their own long-term planning. The profoundly different views of the U.S. role in Iraq only exacerbated the schism between the two men.
“Bad relations?” said a senior civilian official with a laugh. “That’s the understatement of the century. . . . If you think Armageddon was a riot, that’s one way of looking at it.”
Once again, Chimpy displays his gift for being a uniter, not a divider.