Petraeus will take Iraq command, leave Leavenworth

General known as counterinsurgency expert

? Fort Leavenworth commander Lt. Gen. David Petraeus is reportedly President Bush’s choice to be the chief U.S. general in Iraq.

ABC News, The Los Angeles Times and The New York Times reported Thursday night that Bush has decided on Petraeus to replace Gen. George Casey Jr. as the top military commander in Iraq.

Lt. Gen. David Petraeus, commander of the Combined Arms Center at Fort Leavenworth, reportedly will become the commander of U.S. military forces in Iraq.

Petraeus came to Fort Leavenworth in October 2005 after commanding the 101st Airborne Division deployed in Iraq and commanding the Multi-National Security Transition Command-Iraq and the NATO Training Mission-Iraq. The mission of the last two commands was to train Iraqis soldiers to succeed U.S. troops in providing security for their country.

At Fort Leavenworth, Petraeus – who has been called the Army’s premier trainer – has helped oversee the drafting of the Army and Marine field manual on counterinsurgency.

Of Petraeus, the Los Angeles Times said, “Although his selection does not come as a surprise, Petraeus is closely associated with the push for a more complex counterinsurgency campaign, which would move U.S. soldiers out of their large bases and into smaller outposts in troubled neighborhoods.

“Advocates of such a plan argue that it is the only way to gain the confidence of Iraqi civilians and protect them from attack. (Retiring Army Gen. John P.) Abizaid and (Gen. George W.) Casey have resisted such moves, arguing that a more visible U.S. presence would inflame locals and prevent Iraqi forces from shouldering the security burden.

The newspaper also quoted retired Gen. Barry McCaffrey as saying, “Dave Petraeus may be the most talented person I ever met, He’s got phenomenal intellectual gifts.”

Petraeus would be in line for a promotion from a three-star general to a four-star general with Bush’s decision, which must win congressional approval.