Sanchez 'actively involved' as V Corps readies for Iraq
HEIDELBERG, Germany — Although Army Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez won’t deploy with the unit he commands, he remains “actively involved” in getting his V Corps headquarters ready for its lead war-fighting role in Iraq, a corps spokeswoman said Thursday.
Corps commanders, such as Sanchez, typically remain at their post for about two years, said Lt. Col. Michelle Martin-Hing, a corps spokeswoman. By the time V Corps headquarters deploys to Iraq in early 2006, Sanchez, who took charge in June 2003, will be seven months beyond that time- table.
“He is actively involved in getting this corps ready to go to war,” Martin-Hing said during a coordination conference in Heidelberg.
But Sanchez’s future in the Army has yet to be determined, at least publicly.
Martin-Hing said that currently “we have no announcement” to make on any “follow-on assignment” for Sanchez.
Army Lt. Col. Pamela Hart, a Pentagon spokeswoman, echoed that sentiment.
“LTG Sanchez remains in command of V Corps,” she wrote in an e-mail sent to the Stars and Stripes’ Pentagon bureau.
The 52-year-old three-star general came under intense criticism last year following revelations of detainee abuse at Abu Ghraib prison. At the time of the abuse, Sanchez, as V Corps commander, was in charge of U.S. land forces in Iraq.
While Sanchez was said to be aware of some of the aggressive interrogation tactics going on at the prison, a military investigation into the scandal later cleared him and several other top leaders of any criminal wrongdoing.
When, or if, Sanchez is re-assigned, his appointment would come under congressional review, which is standard.
Sanchez was not readily visible Thursday at the weeklong conference, dubbed Victory Surge. The classified conference, billed as an “advanced decision-making exercise,” drew scores of soldiers and Marines to its Heidelberg location.
When V Corps does deploy to Iraq, it will assume command of the Multi-National Corps, Iraq, from XVIII Airborne Corps. Its commander will be Army Maj. Gen. Peter W. Chiarelli, who has been nominated for a third star.
The announcement that Chiarelli will lead the headquarters corps in Iraq “means what it says,” Martin-Hing said, “and that’s pretty much where we are at.”
Neither Sanchez nor Chiarelli, who is attending the conference in Germany, were available for comment.
Martin-Hing added that Sanchez is intimately involved in all aspects of the conference, as well as preparations for V Corps to go downrange. The preparations range from training to staff coordination.
“He’s commanding the corps,” she said. “Even once we deploy, he will still be the corps commander.”