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Adm. William Fallon has jettisoned the phrase “The Long War,” coined by former U.S. Central Command chief John Abizaid to convey the time needed to defeat the religious extremism fueling al-Qaida, according to a report in Thursday’s Tampa Tribune.

Fallon, who replaced Abizaid on March 16, considered the term inconsistent with the goal of reducing the U.S. military presence in the Middle East, the command told the Tribune.

The paper quoted Marine Corps Lt. Col. Matt McLaughlin, a command spokesman, as saying that referring to the broader battle as a lengthy ideological conflict distracted from the more immediate benchmarks and suggested there was no plan to leave the region.

“The change in vernacular is a product of our ongoing effort to use language that describes the conflict for our Western audience while understanding the cultural implications of how that language is construed in the Middle East,” McLaughlin wrote the Tribune in an e-mail.

Though Abizaid popularized “The Long War,” it was adopted by other officers and Bush administration officials.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates used the phrase during his remarks when Fallon took command from Abizaid, but is now speaking in themes more closely aligned with Fallon’s, the Tribune reported. To Abizaid, an Arab-American lauded for his understanding of the Middle East, “The Long War” applied in the same way the “Cold War” described the decadeslong struggle between the United States and the Soviet Union.

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