How Is Fallon Still Employed???

September 12th, 2007at 07:24pm Posted by Eli

I mean, talk about saying all the wrong things:

In sharp contrast to the lionisation of Gen. David Petraeus by members of the U.S. Congress during his testimony this week, Petraeus’s superior, Admiral William Fallon, chief of the Central Command (CENTCOM), derided Petraeus as a sycophant during their first meeting in Baghdad last March, according to Pentagon sources familiar with reports of the meeting.

Fallon told Petraeus that he considered him to be “an ass-kissing little chickenshit” 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.

That extraordinarily contentious start of Fallon’s mission to Baghdad led to more meetings marked by acute tension between the two commanders. Fallon went on develop his own alternative to Petraeus’s recommendation for continued high levels of U.S. troops in Iraq during the summer.

(…)

Fallon’s derision toward Petraeus reflected both the CENTCOM commander’s personal distaste for Petraeus’s style of operating and their fundamental policy differences over Iraq, according to the sources.

The policy context of Fallon’s extraordinarily abrasive treatment of his subordinate was Petraeus’s agreement in February to serve as front man for the George W. Bush administration’s effort to sell its policy of increasing U.S. troop strength in Iraq to Congress.

In a highly unusual political role for an officer who had not yet taken command of a war, Petraeus was installed in the office of Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican from Kentucky, in early February just before the Senate debated Bush’s troop increase. According to a report in The Washington Post Feb. 7, senators were then approached on the floor and invited to go McConnell’s office to hear Petraeus make the case for the surge policy.

Fallon was strongly opposed to Petraeus’s role as pitch man for the surge policy in Iraq adopted by Bush in December as putting his own interests ahead of a sound military posture in the Middle East and Southwest Asia — the area for which Fallon’s CENTCOM is responsible.

The CENTCOM commander believed the United States should be withdrawing troops from Iraq urgently, largely because he saw greater dangers elsewhere in the region. “He is very focused on Pakistan,” said a source familiar with Fallon’s thinking, “and trying to maintain a difficult status quo with Iran.”

(…)

Fallon also expressed great scepticism about the basic assumption underlying the surge strategy, which was that it could pave the way for political reconciliation in Iraq. In the lead story Sep. 9, The Washington Post quoted a “senior administration official” as saying that Fallon had been “saying from Day One, ‘This isn’t working.’ ”

(…)

During the summer, according to the Post Sep. 9 report, Fallon began to develop his own plans for redefine the U.S. mission in Iraq, including a plan for withdrawal of three-quarters of the U.S. troop strength by the end of 2009.

The conflict between Fallon and Petraeus over Iraq came to a head in early September. According to the Post story, Fallon expressed views on Iraq that were sharply at odds with those of Petraeus in a three-way conversation with Bush on Iraq the previous weekend. Petraeus argued for keeping as many troops in Iraq for as long as possible to cement any security progress, but Fallon argued that a strategic withdrawal from Iraq was necessary to have sufficient forces to deal with other potential threats in the region.

(…)

Fallon had a “visceral distaste” for what he regarded as Petraeus’s sycophantic behaviour in general, which had deeper institutional roots, according to a military source familiar with his thinking.

Fallon is a veteran of 35 years in the Navy, operating in an institutional culture in which an officer is expected to make enemies in the process of advancement. “If you are Navy captain and don’t have two or three enemies, you’re not doing your job,” says the source.

Fallon acquired a reputation for a willingness to stand up to powerful figures during his tenure as commander in chief of the Pacific Command from February 2005 to March 2007. He pushed hard for a conciliatory line toward and China, which put him in conflict with senior military and civilian officials with a vested interest in pointing to China as a future rival and threat.

He demonstrated his independence from the White House when he refused in February to go along with a proposal to send a third naval carrier task force to the Persian Gulf, as reported by IPS in May. Fallon questioned the military necessity for the move, which would have signaled to Iran a readiness to go to war. Fallon also privately vowed that there would be no war against Iran on his watch, implying that he would quit rather than accept such a policy.

Fallon sounds like a pretty non-delusional, standup guy. I’m glad he’s there, but mystified as to how it happened. I guess they slip through the cracks every once in a while, like Pat Fitzgerald.

(h/t Think Progress)

Entry Filed under: Bush,Democrats,Iraq


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