BREAKING NEWS: U.S. Central Command leader Adm. William Fallon to step down
WASHINGTON - Adm. William Fallon is stepping down as head of the U.S. Central Command, which oversees military matters in the Middle East, Defense Secretary Robert Gates announced Tuesday.
Gates said Fallon took the decision because of recent statements attributed to him that Fallon felt had created a misperception about his goals and those of President Bush.
Gates said Fallon had asked Gates for permission to retire and that Gates agreed.
Fallon was the subject of an article published last week in Esquire magazine that portrayed him as opposed to Bush’s Iran policy. It described Fallon as a lone voice against taking military action to stop the Iranian nuclear program.
“I think this is a cumulative kind of thing,” Gates said in response to a question about that. “It isn’t the result of any one article or any one issue.”
Gates described as “ridiculous” any notion that Fallon’s departure signals the United States is planning to go to war with Iran.
“As I say, the notion that this decision portends anything in terms of change in Iran policy is, to quote myself, ’ridiculous,’ “ he said.
Fallon has had a 41-year Navy career. He took the Central Command post on March 16, 2007, succeeding Army Gen. John Abizaid, who retired. Fallon previously served as commander of U.S. Pacific Command.
More to follow...
UPDATE I - by Blue Girl - 3:15 cdt
Screw the plaudits and phony warmth. The admiral is leaving because of policy differences between Fallon and the administration. But the differences aren't just about Iran, or even Iraq, where he has been outspoken about opposing the "Surge™ and about setting schedules for troop withdrawals.
Insiders say the death knell was sounded by the recent publication of an article in Esquire magazine, The Man Between War and Peace, which highlighted comments made by Fallon in an Al Jazeera interview last fall in which he was disdainful of the constant drumbeat for war with Iran.
Now, get out your tinfoil hats. I think there is a whole 'nuther level. They disagree strongly about the man-god Petraeus of the rank of General. Remember that Fallon ruffled quite a few (yellow) feathers when he referred to the American commander in Iraq as an "ass-kissing little chickenshit" and didn't even get around to a feigned denial that he said it for six months.
Petraeus is due back in Washington this month to appear before Congress, and he wants to halt drawdowns. Fallon opposed the surge, predicted what would happen, and wanted drawdowns. And just in time, violence and casualties are ticking up. What a coinky-dink.
UPDATE II - PALE RIDER
Right now, it's all about where the Aircraft Carriers are and where they are going. THAT'S the key to any operation in the Persian Gulf. Forget the position of the US Army in Iraq--those forces are dispersed and tied down. Forget the idea that we can accomplish anything by air alone in Iran--that's fallacy. Forget the idea that Iran won't immediately lock itself down and survive anything we throw at it--when the first bomb hits, we will have legitimized the Islamic state and the fundamentalist control of that nation for the next fifty years. We will ensure that the wayward sons of today's Mullahs become the clerics in charge long after I'm gone.
It ain't about oil. I will tell you that much. It's got nothing to do with oil at all. It's all about Israel. Sorry to break it to you, but we're not running out of oil. We're seeing a vast shakedown in play--the last gasp of conservative/neocon greed is going to gather up as many fallen acorns and stock them away, because they know they won't get this chance until President Pierce Bush is sworn in.