February 26, 2008

Chiarelli (likely) to Iraq

Tom Ricks reads tea leaves so we don't have to!

Army Lt. Gen. Peter Chiarelli appears to be the most likely officer to succeed Gen. David H. Petraeus as top commander of U.S. forces in Iraq by the end of this year, as the other two leading candidates have recently been named to senior positions in the U.S. military establishment.

Charlie's only objection to this is that, by all accounts, Chiarelli has been doing the Lord's work as the military assistant to Sec. Gates. The Pentagon's loss is Iraq's gain, though not everyone is quite d'accord:

Opinions inside the Army are mixed, with some officers noting that Chiarelli was one of the first advocates of shifting course in Iraq and adopting classic counterinsurgency techniques, while others say that in his second tour, he presided over a failing strategy as violence skyrocketed. Some influential insiders are still advocating that Odierno, who was recently nominated to become the Army's vice chief of staff, replace Petraeus later this year.

Charlie is guessing that the only people who'd blame Chiarelli for the disaster that was 2006 are the people who think Odierno should move over to MNF-I. Odierno will rotate back to DC; Petraeus will go to EUCOM; and Chiarell will head to Baghdad. Done and done.