General David Petraeus, the man credited with curbing sectarian violence in Iraq, will hand over command of US-led forces in Iraq to General Raymond Odierno on September 16.
BAGHDAD - U.S. General David Petraeus, credited with helping staunch violence in Iraq, will hand over command of U.S. forces there to Lieutenant-General Raymond Odierno on Sept. 16, a military spokesman said on Sunday.
Petraeus will relinquish command of the approximately 146,000 U.S. troops in Iraq after 19 months on the job to become head of Central Command, the U.S. military headquarters responsible for a vast region from Kenya to Kazakhstan.
Odierno most recently served as the number 2 U.S. commander in Iraq, finishing that assignment earlier this year. He will be promoted to full general as he takes over the Iraq command on Sept. 16, said Colonel Steven Boylan, spokesman for Petraeus.
Petraeus will hand over control of a very different Iraq from the one he found when he became U.S. commander here in February 2007.
Sectarian and indiscriminate bloodshed has dropped sharply, and attacks are now at low levels not seen since early 2004.
Petraeus oversaw the "surge" of some 30,000 U.S. troops to Iraq last year, a move that helped reduce violence along with cooperation from Sunni Arab tribal leaders and a ceasefire imposed on Shi'ite militiamen.
Odierno assumes control with the United States expected to further draw down its military presence more than five years after the U.S.-led invasion to topple Saddam Hussein.
Pentagon sources said last week they are recommending the withdrawal of one combat brigade, 3,000 to 5,000 soldiers, in early 2009, reflecting both improving conditions in Iraq and growing needs in Afghanistan.
The five additional "surge" brigades have already left Iraq and have not been replaced.
U.S. and Iraqi officials are negotiating a security pact that will govern the U.S. presence in Iraq after the current United Nations mandate expires at the end of the year.
Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has said all U.S. troops will leave Iraq by the end of 2011, although Washington has said no final deal has been reached.
Date created : 2008-09-07