Impressions on Military Shifts
Posted by Shawn Brimley
First, it clearly reflects a desire for some continuity in Iraq over the presidential transition – this is a good thing. With Ambassador Crocker retiring in early 2009, this will ensure that at least the top military commander in Iraq will stay consistent through the transition. Wartime transitions are inherently dangerous, and I'm glad Gates and Co. are thinking this through.
Second, this may be interpreted by some as a blow to the institutional Army, as Gates seems to have clearly weighed in on the debate between MNF-I and the Services on resources. With Chiarelli (Petraeus' key aide) replacing Cody as Vice-Chief of the Army, it sends a clear signal that the requests of field commanders will be favorably received (this really isn't news as Odierno was previously slotted for Vice-Chief before Admiral Fallon's resignation shifted things).
Third and related, it likely further reflects Gates' growing frustration with the Services (manifested in his comments this week to the Air Force), that there is not enough urgency from force providers.
Finally, it signals that those in the Army who are very forward-leaning on COIN innovation and adaptation will be rewarded, which is also a very good sign. See here for articles in Military Review by Petraeus and Chiarelli.