New CENTCOM Commander Oblivious On Surge
AP photo of Admiral Fallon at his announcement as CENTCOM commander
Can someone explain to me how in the hell Admiral William Fallon was installed by the White House to implement the surge in Iraq when he doesn't fully understand the president’s plan or his boss's congressional testimony on it, and won’t commit to Senator Levin that the 21,500 troops will be enough?
Fallon said he did not know how many extra troops will be needed in Iraq to successfully implement the new strategy Bush announced Jan. 10. Bush approved the deployment of an additional 21,500 troops between now and May.
Asked by Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., chairman of the committee, whether the flow of additional U.S. troops would be tied to progress by the Iraqis on political and other commitments they made to Bush, Fallon said he had not yet studied the plans in detail, given his continuing responsibilities as Pacific Command chief.
"I'm surprised you don't have that understanding going in, frankly," Levin said.
Excuse me Admiral, but Secretary Gates, your boss, already looked Congress in the face and told them the additional troops would be sent over in stages, but only if the Iraqis met their commitments over the coming months. Gates said this in his opening remarks to Levin’s committee back on January 12th, and then again in the follow-up responses to Levin’s questions during the hearing. Even John Warner, who will probably cave this week on a resolution restricting the surge to specific tasks and benchmarks, made it clear to Gates three weeks ago that sending troops over to Iraq without requiring Iraqi performance was a nonstarter.
And yet today, the Admiral sounds as if he is oblivious to the commitment his boss has made to the Senate and can't say that the 21,500 is enough. Is this the best guy Bush could find for CENTCOM, or was the only real qualification the fact that he was an admiral?