Gates disputes report that Petraeus is bound for NATO post
January 26, 2008
ARLINGTON, Va. — Gen. David Petraeus is not heading to Europe anytime soon.
Petraeus is commander of U.S. troops in Iraq. Since last February, he has overseen the “surge” of 30,000 extra troops to Iraq and implemented the Army and Marine Corps’ counterinsurgency manual, which he co-authored.
On Monday, The New York Times reported that Petraeus was being considered as the next head of NATO. The job would also entail being in charge of U.S. European Command.
But Defense Secretary Robert Gates told reporters Thursday that Petraeus is staying put for the time being.
“With respect to General Petraeus’ next assignment, the president is pretty clear that he wants General Petraeus to stay right where he is through at least late fall and maybe the end of the year,” Gates said.
The current EUCOM commander, Gen. Bantz Craddock, took the position in December 2006. His predecessor held the post for close to four years.
Combatant commanders serve at the pleasure of the president, and the time they spend in their assignments varies, Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said Friday.
Last March, Craddock expressed concern that EUCOM did not have enough troops to carry out its missions and he submitted a report to Gates that recommended re-evaluating the proposed redeployment of troops from Europe to the United States.
As a result, the Army announced in December that two Germany-based brigade combat teams would stay in Europe until at least 2012.
Gates is “very pleased” with both Craddock and Petraeus in their current assignments, Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell said at a Tuesday news conference.
“Until the secretary recommends to the president otherwise and the president approves otherwise, those two commanders will continue in the roles that they now have,” Morrell told reporters.