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American Forces Press Service

Casey Confirmed to Lead Army

By Sgt. Sara Wood, USA
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Feb. 8, 2007 – The Senate today confirmed Army Gen. George W. Casey Jr. to be the next Army chief of staff.

The vote was 83-14 in favor of Casey, who has lead Multinational Force Iraq since July 2004. Casey replaces Army Gen. Peter Schoomaker, who is retiring. President Bush nominated Casey for the Army’s top uniformed position Jan. 17, and Casey faced tough Senate confirmation hearings Feb. 1.

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates has supported Casey’s nomination. At a Pentagon media roundtable Jan. 26, Gates noted that Casey spent 30 months on the ground in Baghdad during what was supposed to be an 18-month tour and adjusted tactics to deal with the rise in sectarian violence.

“He was the first choice of the professional military and the secretary of the Army for this position,” Gates said. “He served as the vice chief of staff of the Army. So I think he’s eminently qualified. I think he’s rendered good service. I think he deserves this position.”

As commander in Iraq, Casey oversaw the largest sustained ground forces operation by the U.S. military in a generation. After the Golden Mosque in Samarra was bombed in February 2006 and sectarian violence surged, Casey adjusted troop levels and tactics. He was also a key figure in implementing Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s Baghdad security plan.

In his confirmation hearings before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Casey said that Bush’s new Iraq strategy can work, emphasizing the importance of securing the Iraqi population.

“For the Iraqis to successfully assume and sustain security responsibility, their security forces must emerge as the dominant security forces in the country,” Casey said. “To do this, political and militia influence over the security forces must be eliminated, and levels of sectarian violence, particularly in the capital, must be brought down substantially -- brought down to the point where the people in Baghdad can be safe in their neighborhoods. This is what we are working toward in Baghdad. It will take time, and the Iraqis do need our help.”

Casey also said that the Army has not been overly strained by the war on terror and is still the world’s preeminent land power. He said he believes in the Army vision and transformation and that his position in Iraq has given him an opportunity to see the Army at work in the war on terror.

“I see in Iraq every day a splendid Army,” he said. “I know that General Schoomaker has problems with the forces yet to deploy and with some of the strategic elements that will deploy later, but from what I see in Iraq, the Army is far from broken.”

Today’s soldiers are the best he has seen in his entire career and make a difference in Iraq every day, Casey said. He pledged that U.S. soldiers and their families, who also make tremendous sacrifices, will be his top priority.

Casey is set to hand over command of Multinational Force Iraq to Army Gen. David Petraeus on Feb. 10.

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