General Ray Odierno, Commanding General of United States Forces – Iraq (previously Multinational Forces – Iraq), will be leaving soon to take command of Joint Forces Command in Norfolk.
Although General Petraeus, Gen. Odierno’s previous boss, will forever be linked to the success of the surge, General Odierno deserves his due credit as well.
Perhaps as much as any man alive, General Odierno has played a pivotal role in virtually every phase of the conflict in Iraq.
He fought with the 7th Army in Desert Storm.
He commanded the 4th Infantry Division at the beginning of Operation Iraqi Freedom, taking Mosul and Tikrit – his Soldiers famously captured Saddam Hussein in 2003.
He commanded III Corps from 2006-2008, a tour that included a 15 month deployment to Iraq. During that time he also acted as Commander, Multi-National Corps – Iraq.
Seven months after returning to Fort Hood, he returned again to take command of Multi-National Forces – Iraq (later consolidated into United States Forces – Iraq), a position he will hold until transferring to Norfolk.
What most people don’t know is that General Odierno was not only an advocate of the surge, he was the man who planned and implemented it.
When he took the helm from General Petraeus in 2008, he did so as one of only about a dozen people in American history to command a division, corps and theater in the same conflict.
Since then, Iraq has all but disappeared from the news. Good news doesn’t sell, apparently. By all accounts, and by any standard, conditions have continued to improve under his leadership. As he prepares to move out of the theater, he will leave a country poised to stand on its own, governed by legitimately elected officials, and able to decide its own future.
U.S. forces will be reduced to 50,000 (from 80,000) in September, and are on schedule to be out by the end of 2011. How do we know the drawdown is on track?
General Odierno told us.
A job well done, General. You are our hero of the week.