Gen. David Petraeus cast such an enormous shadow the last two years that only the most fervent Army watcher could probably say who the No. 2 was during the critical "surge" period in Iraq.
For the record, he is Gen. Raymond Odierno, a mountain of a man who looks straight out of central casting for a butt-kickin’ Army general.
In the coming days, Odierno, 53, now bearing four stars on his uniform, takes over from Petraeus as the senior commander in Iraq at a time of momentous change. Petraeus, widely considered one of the Army’s brightest thinkers on irregular warfare, assumes command of U.S. Central Command and responsibility for military operations throughout the Middle East and Afghanistan after being in charge in Iraq for 19 months.
Odierno, who has spent much of the last seven years stationed at Fort Hood in Central Texas, is an artilleryman by background with little on his résumé to suggest that he has absorbed counterinsurgency doctrine, which seeks to blend combat operations with nation-building. Except that Odierno’s career evolution in recent years is strikingly parallel to the Army at large — criticized early in the war for an overreliance on combat, only to learn the painful lessons that defeating an insurgency requires more than a good offense.
Still, questions linger, as they did not for Petraeus, about how ready Odierno is for the strategic challenges of Iraq.
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