Thom Shanker and David Stout of the New York Times are reporting that Adm. William J. Fallon, commander of US Central Command whose views on Iran and other issues have seemed to put him at odds with the Bush administration, is retiring early, the Pentagon said Tuesday afternoon.
Secretary of Defense Robert Gates announces the retirement of Adm William Fallon, commander, US Central Command, on 11 March 2008.
Secretary of Defense Robert Gates Press Conference - Transcript
More from the Times article:
... despite the warm words from Mr. Bush and Mr. Gates, there was no question that the admiral's premature departure stemmed from policy differences with the administration, and with Gen. David H. Petraeus, the American commander in Iraq.
Mr. Gates acknowledged as much when he said that Admiral Fallon, in asking permission on Tuesday morning to retire, had expressed concerns that the controversy over his views were becoming "a distraction." But the secretary labeled as "ridiculous" any speculation that the admiral's retirement portends a more bellicose American approach toward Iran.
Admiral Fallon had rankled senior officials of the Bush administration with outspoken comments on such issues as dealing with Iran and on setting the pace of troop reductions from Iraq — even though his comments were well within the range of views expressed by Mr. Gates...
The Times article quotes "officials" as saying the last straw, however, came in an article in Esquire magazine by Thomas P. M. Barnett, a respected military analyst, that profiled Admiral Fallon under the headline, "The Man Between War and Peace."
Tom Ricks, Washington Post, in an article titled Commander Rejects Article of Praise reported that Fallon called Barnett's Esquire piece poison pen stuff that is really disrespectful and ugly. Ricks had more:
Fallon has previously made it clear he has differences with the Bush administration's foreign policy. Some White House aides were said to be unhappy with his decision to dump "the long war" as a phrase to describe U.S. efforts against terrorism. In addition, some White House officials were irked by the persistent friction between him and Army Gen. David H. Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Iraq. Fallon and Petraeus are known to have disagreed about plans and troop levels in Iraq, but Petraeus, even though technically subordinate to Fallon, appears to have more influence with Bush.
Asked about his dealings with Petraeus, Fallon said in a December interview, "That stuff is all overblown. . . . We talk daily." He added, "Dave does internal Iraq. I do the region."
Fallon, a career naval aviator and one of the last Vietnam War veterans on active duty, took over as chief of the Central Command in March 2007, becoming the first Navy officer ever to hold that post...
American Forces Press Service is reporting that Fallon's deputy, Army Lieutenant General Martin Dempsey, will take over as acting Central Command commander until a permanent replacement is nominated and confirmed.
On a likely permanent replacement Ricks reports:
A likely successor to Fallon is Petraeus, some defense experts said. The general could be promoted to the Centcom post and replaced in Baghdad by Lt. Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, who until last month was Petraeus's deputy in Iraq. Odierno, who has been nominated to become Army vice chief of staff, developed a strong working relationship with Petraeus.
Another possible successor mentioned yesterday is Lt. Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, the head of Special Operations in Iraq. McChrystal recently was nominated to be director of the staff of the Joint Chiefs, a key Pentagon position.
More at the Washington Post, Los Angeles Times and Christian Science Monitor. Commentary by Max Boot at the Los Angeles Times, the gang at Abu Muqawama, Galrahn at Information Dissemination, Jules Crittenden at Forward Movement, Westhawk, Jason Sigger at Danger Room, Blackfive, and Zenpundit.
Tom Barnett has no comment.
"Fox" Fallon Wasn't Hounded Out - Fred Kaplan, Slate
The Fall of Admiral McFallon - Mackubin Thomas Owens, Weekly Standard
A CENTCOM Chief Who Spoke His Mind - David Ignatius, Washington Post
Fallon: Right Man for Wrong Job? - Bronwen Maddox, London Times
Vice President Fallon? - Frank Gaffney Jr., National Review
The Importance of Fallon's Fall - Michael Barone, Real Clear Politics
Resigned to Reality of This War - Oliver North, Human Events
Demagoguing Adm. Fallon's Departure - Washington Times editorial
Fallon vs. Petraeus - Los Angeles Times editorial
Silence in the Ranks on Fallon - San Francisco Chronicle editorial
Fired for Speaking the Truth - Boston Globe editorial
CENTCOM Commander Resigns - David Betz, Kings of War
Charlie Rose Show - A discussion about Adm. William Fallon's resignation.