On Tuesday, Gen. David Petraeus handed over the duties of commander of multinational forces in Iraq to his second-in-command, Gen. Raymond Odierno, who worked with Petraeus on implementing the U.S. troop surge over recent months. To mark the occasion, Petraeus, other American officials and Iraqi brass joined Odierno for a ceremony in a Baghdad-area palace formerly owned by Saddam Hussein.
The New York Times:
In his first, brief comments as commander of the multinational forces in Iraq, General Odierno said, “We must realize that these gains are fragile and reversible, and our work here is far from done.”
Formerly the No. 2 commander, he faces the challenge of improving on the hard-earned security gains in Iraq with fewer troops, as the United States begins preparations to withdraw 8,000 troops by early next year. The overall American military presence in Iraq — 15 combat brigades and support and logistics personnel — would then number about 138,000.
General Petraeus takes over as commander of the American military’s Central Command, responsible for military issues across the strategically important crescent that stretches from Pakistan, across Central Asia and the Middle East, and throughout the Persian Gulf, and includes both operations in Iraq and, most notably, a troubled mission in Afghanistan.
The ornate Faw Palace, where the ceremony took place was built as Mr. Hussein’s suburban Baghdad retreat; it is now headquarters at a base named by the American military as Camp Victory in a moment of early post-war optimism.