George W. Casey, Jr.

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Gen. George W. Casey, Jr., the Army's second-ranking general, was confirmed February 6, 2007, by the U.S. Senate, as Army Chief of Staff.

On February 1, 2007, after Casey testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Republican presidential hopeful Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) "criticized Casey for what he called misjudgments about the prospects for progress toward stabilizing Iraq during his tenure. McCain said he has 'strong reservations' about Casey's nomination to become Army chief of staff and said that 'things have gotten markedly and progressively worse' during his watch." [1]

Casey's "plan for troop reductions in Iraq faltered last year in the face of escalating sectarian strife" and "initially expressed public wariness about any short-term increase in troops in Iraq, a move that is now a leading option under consideration by the White House." [2]

Casey is being replaced as the top U.S. military commander in Iraq by Lt. Gen. David H. Petraeus, part of a broad revamping of the military team that will carry out the administration’s new Iraq strategy," Bush administration officials said January 4, 2007. [3]

Both Casey and Gen. John P. Abizaid at U.S. Central Command, who has been replaced by Admiral William J. Fallon, "have voiced scepticism about an increase in troop numbers, instead wanting to focus on training Iraqi forces." [4]

"The changes are being made as the White House is considering an option to increase American combat power in Baghdad by five brigades as well as adding two battalions of reinforcements to the volatile province of Anbar in western Iraq," the Bush administration said. [5]

Casey's departure was expected, though "it appears to have been moved up several months from the originally anticipated shift in spring or summer." [6]

Commanding Iraq

It was announced on May 25, 2004, that, on July 1, 2004, "when the United States hands over power" to the Iraqi Interim Government, General Casey would assume command of Multi-National Force-Iraq, replacing Army Lt. Gen. Ricardo S. Sanchez, former Combined Joint Task Force 7 commander, who became head of the new Force effective May 15, 2004. [7] [8] [9]

Eric Schmitt and Thom Shanker, writing in the May 25, 2004, New York Times, reported that "Pentagon officials said that replacing General Sanchez with the Army vice chief of staff, Gen. George W. Casey Jr., in no way reflected on General Sanchez's handling of the widening prisoner-abuse scandal at Abu Ghraib prison, outside of Baghdad, which was under his authority." [10]

They add that "General Casey would be a logical and noncontroversial replacement for General Sanchez. A career infantryman and former commander of the First Armored Division who once directed the military's Joint Staff, General Casey is known as a forceful officer who is highly respected" by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and "Gen. Richard B. Myers, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. General Casey holds a master's degree in international relations from Denver University.

"Under a new American military command structure drawn up for the post-June 30 political setting," Schmitt and Shanker write, "a four-star officer will have overall responsibility but will focus on political and reconstruction issues with the designated American ambassador, John D. Negroponte. A three-star officer, Lt. Gen. Thomas F. Metz, will oversee daily military operations."

On May 24, 2004, MSNBC/NBC News reports, "defense officials told NBC's Jim Miklaszewski that they wanted to have a four-star general in command of Multi-National Force-Iraq, responsible for the broad direction of U.S. military operations.

"Sanchez, who has three stars, was considered for the new position, but President Bush would first have to nominate him for a fourth star, which is subject to confirmation by the Senate.

"The officials, who spoke to NBC News on condition of anonymity, said military officials concluded that it would be too complicated to go through that process in the middle of the war in Iraq.

"Casey, who already has four stars, would not have to go through Senate confirmation."

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