New US Mideast Commander Installed

Out with the Navy, in with the Army as head of CentCom
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 29, 2008 8:58 AM CDT
U.S. Navy Adm. Williams Fallon, left, facing camera, salutes with colors as he stands with Robert Gates, Mike Mullin, and Lt. Gen. Martin Dempsey during a Relinquishment of Command ceremony.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – A new commander has taken temporary charge of US military operations in the Mideast, after a quiet ceremony at MacDill Air Force Base in Florida yesterday. Lt. Gen Martin Dempsey will run CentCom while the administration seeks a permanent replacement for Adm. William Fallon, who quit abruptly earlier this month amid media reports that he was opposed to President Bush's policy on Iran, the St. Petersburg Times reports.

Dempsey, Fallon's No. 2 and a man described by Robert Gates as one of the military's "best strategic minds in one of the world's most complex regions," is taking command at a difficult time. Militia violence is surging in Iraq and the Taliban are once more on the rise in Afghanistan. He may take over the role permanently but Gen. David Petraeus is considered another likely candidate.