Judging from the generals who are taking charge in Iraq, America won't be shying away from battle there any time soon. Gen. Raymond Odierno, who assumed command of multinational forces in Iraq on Thursday, is known throughout the Army as a kick-in-the-doors guy. Odierno, who once commanded the 4th Infantry Division in Anbar province, was credited for helping to capture Saddam Hussein in late 2003. But he was also savagely criticized by Washington Post's Pentagon correspondent, Tom Ricks, in his recent best-selling book "Fiasco," for helping to generate the Sunni insurgency. Under Odierno, Ricks wrote, the "4th ID's indiscriminate detention of Iraqis filled Abu Ghraib prison, swamped the U.S. interrogation system and overwhelmed the U.S. soldiers guarding the prison." Odierno's 4th ID was criticized for the same tactics in an internal Army investigation in December 2003. Odierno says he's learned a few things since then, but as he took over command from Lt. Gen. Peter Chiarelli on Thursday, he sounded as if he was eager to jump back in the fight. "We have to change the dynamics that are going on in Baghdad," Odierno said. "There is a lot of sectarian murder in Baghdad."Another fast-rising general whose tactics may figure large in Iraq, Maj. Gen. James D. Thurman, is also a member of the Odierno school of "kinetics,"or firepower. Thurman last directed Operation Forward Together, the Army's failed attempt to pacify Baghdad by redeploying about 8,000 U.S. troops and thousands of Iraqi soldiers to the capital. Back in September, Thurman was optimistic about success. "Over the past couple of months, we're seeing a reduction in sectarian violence in Baghdad," Thurman said then. But by late October, after weeks of spouting statistics about lowered murder rates, the multinational forces spoksman, Maj. Gen. William Caldwell, conceded that the operation "has not met our overall expectations of sustaining a reduction in the levels of violence." Thurman is slated to get his third star and take over command of V Corps, which is based in Germany but is likely to be rotated back into Iraq eventually.
Join the Discussion