04/23/2008 06:36 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

The Rise of Petraeus

Originally appeared on The Washington Independent.

Reaffirming his status as his generation's most respected general officer, David H. Petraeus was nominated today to head U.S. Central Command (Centcom), the command responsible for all U.S. military operations in the Middle East. The move puts the U.S. military's premier advocate, theorist and practitioner of counterinsurgency operations -- once shunned by a Vietnam-stung military -- at the helm of the military's most important regional command.

But many military analysts -- even those closely associated with the counterinsurgency theories that Petraeus has long championed -- viewed the move as a mixed blessing.

(Matt Mahurin) In defense circles, the identity of the next Central Command commander has been the subject of much speculation. Last month, Adm. William Fallon abruptly resigned from the post after a magazine article portrayed him as an opponent of the Bush administration's continued bellicosity against Iran, a country within the Centcom area of responsibility.

Explaining Petraeus' elevation, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said, "I recommended him to the president because I am absolutely confident he is the best man for the job. ... The kinds of conflicts we are dealing with not just in Iraq, but in Afghanistan and some of the challenges that we face elsewhere in the region in the CentCom area, are very much characterized by asymmetric warfare. And I don't know anybody in the United States military better qualified to lead that effort."

Originally appeared on The Washington Independent.