Watch the statement by the President here.
David Petraeus is best qualified but not the only qualified replacement. Hard to see how this is not also technically a demotion for General Petraeus unless he is going to wear three hats as CENTCOM combatant commander, US commander in Afghanistan and head of ISAF. Perhaps the Senate will insist on that, it has been done before on the civilian side at State and the NSC when Thomas C. Mann held three critical Latin American policy posts for LBJ during the Dominican Crisis of ’65. Kissinger, of course, was both Secretary of State and National Security Adviser under Richard Nixon for a time. Wonder why Mattis or Rodriguez were not moved up?
Marshall considered stepping down from his Chief of staff post (really a Supreme Military Allied Chief of Staff in practice) to become the commander of D-Day but ultimately he went with Ike, though field command at Normandy had been his heart’s desire.
Good luck General Petraeus.
Thomas Ricks also speculates on Petraeus as triple CENTCOM -Afghanistan/ISAF commander. This would probably placate NATO, Pakistan and Karzai, all of whom were nervous about McChrystal’s departure and reduce the number of Senate confirmation hearings required and get complete unity of command. However very capable deputies and “systems” need to be in place in each command for Petraeus to play orchestra conductor effectively instead of being a fire brigade.
About the worst possible administrative result would be Petraeus being replaced at CENTCOM by an unknown flag officer without direct command experience in Iraq or Afghanistan who fears to take any initiative, while additional civilian political operatives from the Executive branch are granted vague “czar” roles to meddle erratically in AfPak policy outside of Defense and State channels. Just enough chefs to burn down the kitchen.
SWJ publisher Bill Nagle says Petraeus will not will not ultimately wear both hats:
Interesting if predictable developments today with GEN McChrystal being relieved by President Obama. Er, I’m sorry, resigning. And certainly an interesting move with GEN Petraeus being promoted, er, demoted, er, reasssigned – yeah, that’s it, reassigned. That strikes me as a wise move, all the more so because of the explicit statement that the rest of the CENTCOM job will not be his, too. It’s not like that’s an easy enough job alone and we need to get more mileage out of that particular 4 star billet.
I think there will be tough questions about AfPak strategy and who has what authority in a constellation of bigwigs during Senate confirmation hearing regardless if Petraeus keeps both jobs or if there’s another nominee.
Dr. Barnett says two-hats or one hat, Petraeus is now “untouchable“.