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The U.S. military in Iraq is undergoing its biggest changeover in senior commanders since Gen. David Petraeus launched a new counterinsurgency strategy nearly a year ago.
The high-level shifts come at a particularly delicate stage in the war as U.S. troop levels begin to decline, Iraqis are handed more security responsibility and Petraeus seeks to ensure that the gains achieved over the past several months continue...
With the exception of Petraeus, senior commanders generally arrive and depart with their units, which means most of those now leaving or preparing to leave have been there for up to 15 months.
Command changes / status:
Lt. Gen. Ray Odierno (Multi-National Corps-Iraq) is scheduled to leave in February and will be replaced by Lt. Gen. Lloyd J. Austin III, commander of 18th Airborne Corps. Odierno commands 3rd Corps.
Maj. Gen. Jeffery W. Hammond is scheduled to assume command of Multi-National Division Baghdad on 19 December, replacing Maj. Gen. Joseph Fil of the 1st Cavalry Division. Hammond is now commander of the 4th Infantry Division.
In western Iraq, Maj. Gen. John F. Kelly (I Marine Expeditionary Force FWD) will replace Maj. Gen. Walter Gaskin (II Marine Expeditionary Force FWD) in February at Multi-National Forces - West.
In northern Iraq, Maj. Gen. Mark Hertling (1st Armored Division) replaced Maj. Gen. Benjamin Mixon (25th Infantry Division) in late October at Multi-National Division - North.
South of Baghdad, Multi-National Division-Central will not change commanders. Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch, commander of the 3rd Infantry Division, will remain until next summer.