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The top U.S. commander in Iraq may be going from Baghdad to Brussels.

Gen. David H. Petraeus may be nominated to become the new head of NATO later this year, the New York Times reported on Monday.

The newspaper named two Army generals as Petraeus’ possible successor as head of Multi-National Force—Iraq: Lt. Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal and Lt. Gen. Peter Chiarelli.

Last year, Army investigators concluded that McChrystal, head of Joint Special Operations Command, was “accountable for the inaccurate and misleading assertions” in papers recommending Army Ranger Cpl. Pat Tillman for his Silver Star.

Tillman, a former NFL player, was killed in 2004 in Afghanistan by friendly fire. The Army originally said Tillman was killed by the enemy.

Chiarelli, former head of Multi-National Corps—Iraq, is currently Defense Secretary Robert Gates’ top military adviser.

Asked about the New York Times story, Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman praised Petraeus for doing an “outstanding job in Iraq,” but declined to say what Petraeus’ next assignment might be.

“When there are final decisions on senior general officer assignments we announce them,” Whitman said in a Monday e-mail. “Until then it is pure speculation and conjecture.”

“Trying to guess Gen. Petraeus’ next assignment is the most popular parlor game in the Pentagon these days,” Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell said in an e-mail Monday.

Morrell said Bush and Gates both appreciate Petraeus’ leadership in Iraq and believe he has “much more to contribute to our nation’s defense” once his tenure in Iraq is over.

Petraeus, who assumed his current post last year, has overseen the buildup of U.S. troops in Iraq known as the “surge” and implemented the ideas of Army and Marine Corps’ new counterinsurgency manual, which he co-authored.

The manual calls for troops to put a greater emphasis on protecting local populations.

“If military forces remain in their compounds, they lose touch with the people, appear to be running scared, and cede the initiative to the insurgents,” the manual said.


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