Odierno yet again asked to eliminate his job
Gen. Ray Odierno, the top commander of U.S. forces in Iraq, thought it was his reward for a job well done. After spending several years in the war zone, he was scheduled to pack up in Iraq on Sept. 1 and depart for a plum job back in the states as head of the U.S. Joint Forces Command.
Instead, the Pentagon announced Monday, Odierno's new job is being downsized. Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said he plans to eliminate the Norfolk-based Joint Forces Command, which employs about 2,800 civilian and military personnel, as well as 3,000 contractors, and has a $240 million annual budget.
Odierno, a four-star Army general who was confirmed for his new command just last month by the Senate, will still get to take on the new assignment, but only as long as it takes him to carry out Gates's order to dismantle the Joint Forces Command.
"I suspect it will take about a year to carry out this change," Gates said. He added that he had already spoken to Odierno and that "he supports the decision."
"Essentially, I told him his assignment is the same as Iraq," Gates told reporters, "to work himself out of a job and then I'll find a new and better one for him."
As commander of U.S. forces in Iraq, Odierno's primary task has been to carry out President Obama's directive to withdraw all U.S. combat forces by Aug. 31, a massive drawdown that will leave only 50,000 U.S. troops in Iraq on Sept. 1.
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