Petraeus Hands Over Command of Iraq

Praises successor Odierno as 'perfect man for the job'
By Peter Fearon,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 16, 2008 2:56 AM CDT
Gen. David Petraeus and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates in Baghdad yesterday.   (AP Photo/Paul J. Richards, Pool)
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(Newser) – Citing a "long struggle" in Iraq despite his successes, Gen. David Petraeus handed over his command of the country, reports the BBC, amid a smattering of violence that served as a reminder of reversible gains. Defense Secretary Robert Gates praised security gains made on Petraeus' watch as authority was passed to Gen. Ray Odierno, whom Petraeus praised as "the perfect man for the job." Two bomb blasts in Baghdad and one in Diyala province killed 34 people during Gates' visit.

"We have lost a lot of lives but it's really been an extraordinary effort of translation of a great strategy into a great success in very difficult circumstances," Gates told reporters. "The challenge for Odierno is how to work with the Iraqis to preserve the gains we've already achieved and expand them."