HEIDELBERG, Germany — Lt. Gen. Ricardo S. Sanchez, who has been V Corps commander for more than three years — longer than any previous general — will relinquish command next week, V Corps announced Wednesday.
Sanchez will turn over command to Gen. David McKiernan, commander of U.S. Army Europe, at a ceremony at 10 a.m. next Wednesday at Campbell Barracks’ parade field.
There was no word on whether Sanchez, the highest-ranking Hispanic officer in the U.S. military — who was once considered a contender for a fourth star and command of the U.S. Southern Command — was retiring after more than 33 years in the Army.
“I can’t tell you,” Patton said. “He’s relinquishing command, and he’s going back to the States.”
Sanchez, 55, has served as the V Corps commander since June 2003, when he assumed command in Baghdad.
He also took on a second role as commander of Combined Joint Task Force-7, putting him in command of a multinational force of some 135,000 active and reserve component troops.
Many observers, including a variety of retired U.S. generals, have said that number of troops was insufficient to stabilize Iraq, allowed for a power vacuum and enabled the insurgency and continuing chaotic and violent conditions.
It was on Sanchez’s watch that the Abu Ghraib prison torture scandal erupted. Sanchez was cleared in various military investigations of any wrongdoing, but one report found him and other top commanders “responsible but not culpable.”
Sanchez has never addressed criticisms that have dogged him since 2004. He has repeatedly declined to comment in newspaper stories about him and did not respond to an e-mail request for an interview on Wednesday.
Lt. Gen. Pete Chiarelli is currently leading V Corps’ headquarters now deployed in Iraq, and is also commander of Multi-National Corps-Iraq.
Sanchez is a native of Rio Grande City, Texas. He graduated from Texas A&I University, Kingsville, Texas, as a distinguished military graduate and was commissioned a second lieutenant in armor in the Regular Army in 1973.