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Military



25 May 2004

General Sanchez to Leave Iraq in Normal Command Rotation

Coalition military spokesman denies change is unusual

"We have always expected [Lieutenant] General [Ricardo] Sanchez to depart sometime after sovereignty, [the June 30] transfer of sovereignty," the deputy director of coalition operations in Iraq says.

Brigadier General Mark Kimmitt, briefing the media in Baghdad May 25, was asked to comment on news reports that Sanchez, commander of Multinational Forces Iraq, would be leaving soon. Kimmitt said that combat commanders are normally kept in theater for a year. "General Sanchez has been here since last April," Kimmitt said, and most of his headquarters command left Iraq in February.

"General Sanchez and a small number of his staff ... were asked to stay on beyond February ... to take advantage of his experience and his institutional knowledge during ... the transfer of sovereignty as the CPA goes away," Kimmitt said.

Following is an excerpt from the CPA briefing:

(begin excerpt)

U.S. Department of Defense News Briefing
Brigadier General Mark Kimmitt, Deputy Director For Coalition Operations; and
Dan Senor, Senior Adviser, CPA
May 25, 2004

(Coalition Provisional Authority Briefing)

Q: General, can you comment on news reports today that General Sanchez will rotate out of here, be reassigned in the coming months?

GEN. KIMMITT: Yeah. We all will rotate out of here and be reassigned in the coming months. General --

MR. SENOR: Including me.

GEN. KIMMITT: Including Dan and including me. But in the case of [Lieutenant] General [Ricardo] Sanchez, yeah, I saw some of those reports. And I think they've got the story wrong.

We typically keep our combat commanders in theater for a year. General Sanchez has been here since last April. He took over the command of CJTF-7 [combined Joint Task Force 7] in June, and his headquarters, the Fifth Corps headquarters, left in February. General Sanchez and a small number of his staff -- a very close, small number of his staff -- were asked to stay on beyond February when the Fifth Corps headquarters departed, for a number of reasons. One of the reasons is to take advantage of his experience and his institutional knowledge during this period of time, the transfer of sovereignty as the CPA goes away.

We have always expected General Sanchez to depart sometime after sovereignty, transfer of sovereignty. Our expectations -- my personal expectation was, like me, he would be departing sometime in the July time period.

So the fact is there was a story that came out today, we haven't heard anything official from Army sources, but what you heard today was not inconsistent with the timeline that we had been working on.

(end excerpt)

(Distributed by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)



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