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ARLINGTON, Va. – Defense Secretary Robert Gates said he has tapped Army generals with experience in Iraq to cultivate the next generation of Army leaders.

“The places where these people have been assigned provide, I believe, the opportunity to institutionalize in the Army the lessons learned in Iraq and Afghanistan,” Gates told reporters Tuesday. “These are all warfighters, and their appointments were not accidents or just happenstance.”

Gates specifically mentioned Gen. George Casey, Army chief of staff; Gen. Peter Chiarelli, vice chief of staff; Gen. Martin Dempsey, head of Army Training and Doctrine Command; Gen. David Petraeus, head of U.S. Central Command; Gen. Ray Odierno, commander of U.S. troops in Iraq; and Lt. Gen. Lloyd Austin, former No. 2 commander in Iraq.

“I’m assuming these guys will then recommend appointments behind them, and it goes to the Army brigadier general board last year that Gen. Petraeus headed; and some of the people who were being promoted, so that’s a big piece of the institutionalization as well,” Gates said

Two of the colonels selected for promotion by the promotion board Petraeus headed were Sean B. MacFarland and H.R. McMaster Jr., who launched successful counterinsurgency efforts in Ramadi and Tal Afar respectively.

MacFarland capitalized on Sunni anger against al Qaida to turn former enemies into allies against the terrorist group, and McMaster used tactics in Tal Afar that eventually became incorporated into the Army and Marine Corps’ counterinsurgency manual.

Also Tuesday, Gates elaborated on his comments from the day before about the need to be prepared for “complex hybrid warfare,” in which adversaries mesh conventional and irregular capabilities.

“Hezbollah has more missiles and rockets than most countries – and some pretty sophisticated equipment to go with it – and yet also has a fairly basic terrorist, as we say, irregular warfare capability,” he said.

The Defense Department cannot prepare for either a conventional or irregular threat, said Marine Gen. James Cartwright, vice chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff.

“What we acknowledge here is that the entire span of military operations is now extremely lethal, and so if we just concentrate at one end or the other, we leave ourselves exposed to what used to be considered the most dangerous threat,” Cartwright said.

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