Odierno leaves Iraq command with praise

Feb. 18, 2008 at 9:25 AM
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BAGHDAD, Feb. 18 (UPI) -- A top commander in Iraq left his post Thursday lauded by top officials for instituting what the U.S. Defense Department hails as the successful troop surge.

Army Lt. Gen. Raymond Odierno, recently nominated for his fourth star and, if confirmed, will become Army vice chief of staff, handed command of the Multi-National Corps-Iraq Thursday to Army Lt. Gen. Lloyd Austin, the Multi-National Corps-Iraq reported.

Army Gen. David H. Petraeus, Multi-National Force-Iraq commander, at a ceremony marking the occasion said Odierno's accomplishments have made a significant difference on the ground in Iraq since originally taking command 14 months ago.

"The situation was very difficult," Petraeus said in a statement. "The bloodshed had reached horrific levels. The very fabric of Iraqi society had been torn."

Petraeus says Odierno's request for additional troops in Iraq is now touted as a successful troop surge.

"He forthrightly requested additional forces, and he and his staff began developing an operational concept for their employment," Petraeus said. "His recommendations for what came to be known as the surge forces have since been proven correct. They reflected a mastery of the operational level of war, and they explicitly laid out the concepts that have guided our forces over the past year."

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