Today, confirmation hearings will be held to name General David Petraeus the head of U.S. Central Command (CentCom) in the Middle East and Central Asia. General Petraeus is currently the U.S. Commander in Iraq and the architect of the strategy which dramatically increased the number of U.S. troops in Iraq -- commonly known as "the surge." During General Petraeus' prior confirmation hearing for his current post, he avoided questions about the Bush administration's Iraq strategy and its overall effect on our national security. He also refused to answer questions regarding the administration's Iraq Strategy and the effect on the military readiness of our troops. General Petraeus' rationale, was that as the U.S. Commander in Iraq, he was limited to policy in Iraq and he would therefore limit his answers to questions regarding Iraq instead of America's national security and troop readiness.
What a difference a year makes. Now that General Petraeus is nominated to oversee the entire Middle East and Central Asia, there are questions that he must address in his confirmation hearing which he refused to answer in his prior hearing. As the head of CentCom for the Middle East and Central Asia, General Petraeus will leave his mark on U.S. foreign policy and military readiness for generations to come and in one of the most hostile areas in the world.
Michael Hayden, the Director of the CIA, is on the record as saying that the Afghanistan/Pakistan border region is "a clear and present danger" to the West and specifically to the United States. Director Hayden went on to say that if the U.S. is going to suffer another terrorist attack on American soil, it will almost certainly originate in this area. That said, I have a few questions for General Petraeus.
- With a Nuclear Pakistan, does this prompt a change in strategy from America's current foreign policy?
General Petraeus is the author of the U.S. strategy on counterinsurgency operations. An instrumental part to the counterinsurgency strategy is having experienced company level commanders. In 2007, 58% of the West Point class of 2002 left active duty after completing their initial commitment. This is a 30 year high with previous years averaging between 10% and 30%. The Army is currently facing a deficit of 3,000 Captains and Majors this year and those numbers are likely to increase over the next few years .
- Does it concern you that the Army is facing these shortfalls?
I am a former Army Captain who left the Army after completing my initial commitment. I submit to you, General Petraeus: if the shortfalls and deployment schedule do not concern you, they should.
As an Iraq War Veteran, as a Congressional Candidate and as an American Citizen, these are just some of the questions for which I think we all deserve answers.