breaking now Fallon has 'resigned' as Centcom chief, this is a major victory for the pro-war faction (see CNN update then original article below saying that Fallon may be fired sometime.
BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Adm. William Fallon has resigned as chief of U.S. forces in the Middle East and Central Asia after more than a year in the post, citing what he called an inaccurate perception that he is at odds with the Bush administration over Iran.
Adm. William Fallon had been serving as chief of U.S. forces in the Middle East and Central Asia since 2007.
Fallon, the head of U.S. Central Command, was the subject of a recent Esquire magazine profile that portrayed him as resisting pressure for military action against Iran, which the Bush administration accuses of trying to develop nuclear weapons.
In a written statement, he said the article's "disrespect for the president" and "resulting embarrassment" have become a distraction.
"Although I don't believe there have ever been any differences about the objectives of our policy in the Central Command area of responsibility, the simple perception that there is makes it difficult for me to effectively serve America's interests there," he said.
In Washington, Defense Secretary Robert Gates told reporters at the Pentagon that he accepted Fallon's resignation "with reluctance and regret."
But he added, "I think it's the right decision."
"We have tried between us to put this misperception behind us over a period of months, and, frankly, just have not been successful in doing so," he said.
Fallon, a 41-year veteran of the Navy, took over as chief of Central Command in early 2007. Gates said he will be replaced by Lt. Gen. Martin Dempsey, his deputy, who commanded an Army division in Iraq in the early days of the war and led efforts to train the Iraqi military. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend
if he does fire Adml Fallon then we are in the s*** bigtime and it means he is going to bomb Iran
Bush May Fire CentCom Chief Adm. Fallon, Replace With Commander More ‘Pliable’ To War With Iran
Defense Secretary Robert Gates has called CENTCOM commander Adm. William Fallon “one of the best strategic thinkers in uniform today.” Fallon opposed the “surge” in Iraq and has consistently battled the Bush administration to avoid a confrontation with Iran, calling officials’ war-mongering “not helpful.” Privately, he has vowed that an attack on Iran “will not happen on my watch.”
Unfortunately, this level-headed thinking and willingness to stand up to President Bush may cost him his job. According to a new article by Thomas P.M. Barnett in the April issue of Esquire magazine (on newsstands March 12), Fallon may be prematurely “relieved of his command” as soon as this summer:
[W]ell-placed observers now say that it will come as no surprise if Fallon is relieved of his command before his time is up next spring, maybe as early as this summer, in favor of a commander the White House considers to be more pliable. If that were to happen, it may well mean that the president and vice-president intend to take military action against Iran before the end of this year and don’t want a commander standing in their way.
In the Esquire article, Fallon also said that he was in “hot water” with the White House for meeting with Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak. Fallon noted that such meetings are his job, and essential to making sure that regional leaders don’t get “too spun up” by the administration’s war rhetoric.
In today’s White House press briefing, a reporter asked spokeswoman Dana Perino about the Esquire piece. Perino refused to say whether Fallon’s position is secure until the end of his tenure, instead attacking “rumor mills that don’t turn out to be true.” Watch it:
According to Barnett’s piece, Fallon also denied ever calling Petraeus an “ass-kissing little chickenshit.” He called the allegations “[a]bsolute bullshit.”
QUESTION: Dana, I know you have (inaudible), but if you’ll trust me to quote from it, there’s an article in Esquire magazine about Admiral William Fallon that says this: Because of Fallon’s caution on Iran, Fallon may soon be unemployed because he is doing what a generation of young officers in the U.S. military are now openly complaining that their leadership didn’t do on their behalf in the run up to the war in Iraq. He’s standing up to the commander in chief and he thinks he’s contemplating a strategically unsound war.
Is that an accurate portrayal of their relationship?
PERINO: You’re right. But before I came here, I told you I haven’t seen the article. I don’t know who wrote it. I’ve never heard anything of that sort, except for in rumor mills that don’t turn out to be true.
So, I’ll check it out, but I don’t think…
QUESTION: … opposing views on Iran?
PERINO: I don’t know.
QUESTION: … saying that he’s been in hot water with the White House because — even meeting with Mubarak.
PERINO: President Bush’s position on Iran is very clear. It doesn’t mean that other people can’t have other thoughts or positions, but I’m not going to characterize Admiral Fallon.
And let me take a look at the article and then we’ll try to get back to you.