Odierno should remember who is CinC.

Odierno "The US commander was confident that the overall timetable for the US pullout would be met. But he added that US combat troops might have to stay beyond June 30 in Mosul and Baqubah, where al-Qaeda retains an active presence. “The two areas I am concerned with are Mosul and then Baqubah and [other] parts of Diyala province,” he said. “We will conduct assessments and provide our assessments when the time is right.”

He added that over the next 12 months “we won’t see a large reduction in any forces in Mosul or Diyala. In fact we might see reinforcements in those areas if we continue to have issues”. Another flashpoint is the ethnically divided city of Kirkuk, on the border of Iraqi Kurdistan, where Arabs and Kurds are at loggerheads. Provincial elections were delayed there because of a disagreement over ownership of the city, a row that also covers towns and villages scattered along the border.

The general agreed that there was a risk of conflict in those areas. “We can’t allow politics, we can’t allow pride, we can’t allow ego to cause violence to occur when you can solve a problem with dialogue.” "  Times Online


General Raymond Odierno is not Commander in Chief of the US armed forces.  He serves at the will of the president and can be relieved of duty in Iraq and placed on the retired list in his permanent rank of major general any time that Barack Obama  chooses to do so.  Since full general is a temporary rank that comes with a particular job such a relief would risk retirement in a lower grade.  This is true of all four star generals and admirals.  They should all remember that, including those who are clever enough to have Ray Odierno run interference for them.

General Odierno's opinion was solicited before the president made a policy decision in regard to Iraq.  That decision having been made, it is now General Odierno's duty to carry out the policy or ask to be relieved and retired.  He could then run for president, an office in which he would have the authority and power under law and the Constitution to set policy for generals to carry out.

Odierno's wife is quoted in this piece as saying that he did not want to be a professional soldier.  He wanted to be a professional football player, and was thwarted in that ambition by an injury.  A pity.

He commanded the 4th Infantry Division in Iraq early in the war.  The "Ivy" Division under his command was notorious for the heavy handed clumsiness of its operations and was generally thought to have contributed significantly to the growth of the Sunni insurgency.  Now he is a "fan" of the COIN methodology.  Well, why not?  It's the "in" thing these days.

He will probably be Chief of Staff of the Army soon.  pl


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28 Responses to Odierno should remember who is CinC.

  1. HJFJR says:

    Ah Colonel you have hit the eternal truth, his ambition is greater than his ability. I am not a fan of his approach in running MNFI, he thinks that somehow he is more important than the Combatant Commander.

  2. alnval says:

    Col. Lang:
    I’ve been wondering if the inconsistencies in Odierno’s public statements about US policy in Iraq would ever be noticed. Thank you for doing so.
    Thomas Ricks, who has described in print both Odierno’s heavy handedness with the 4th Div and his later apparent conversion to COIN attributes the latter in part to the combat wound suffered by his son. That kind of emotional trauma may well have had an impact on reframing his thinking.
    My own sense is that Odierno will always respond well to prompt and aggressive correction from his superiors but he’s not the kind of guy one would want in charge. Not a thinker but a doer. Not a quarterback but a blocking back.
    In that regard, do you have any sense yet of the long term impact that Petraeus has had on this last selection board? Whether the McMasters in the group who received their star will filter to the top or are likely to be culled out?

  3. J Kemp says:

    Who is AQ in MOSUL?
    Sunni? Shia?
    Props to the Generals, No easy task. Thx/

  4. Green Zone Cafe says:

    Colonel, what makes you so sure that there was not prior message coordination by Odierno? This may not be an act of insubordination at all.
    Maliki had previously said what Odierno said on withdrawal of US forces from places like Mosul.
    The withdrawal schedule is going to slip. Odierno’s statement may be part of preparing the public for that.

  5. Highlander says:

    Well,if the good General Odierno has indeed been insubordinate.
    Then let our new Commander in Chief act like it,and one way or the other put General Odierno in his place.
    Obama should send a strong message. Just like he did on his recent trip.

  6. fnord says:

    While the point about the chain of command is very well pointed out, I think you will find that Gen. Odierno has a reputation among the COIN folks as one who truly got it once it became doctrine. It would be interesting to hear more about your pov on the COIN ideas, somehow your tone tells me your not a big fan…?

  7. Redhand says:

    He commanded the 4th Infantry Division in Iraq early in the war. The “Ivy” Division under his command was notorious for the heavy handed clumsiness of its operations and was generally thought to have contributed significantly to the growth of the Sunni insurgency. Now he is a “fan” of the COIN methodology. Well, why not? It’s the “in” thing these days.
    He will probably be Chief of Staff of the Army soon.

    Having read of Odierno’s handling of the 4th Inf. Div. in 2003, I was appalled at the decision to place this bull in a chinashop in overall command in Iraq. But surely you jest about him becoming the next Chief of Staff of the Army. What about Petreaus? Isn’t he the “natural” choice?
    Incidentally, what follows may smack of anti-military snark, but it’s actually a question I’ve had for ages. Perhaps you know the answer, Col. Lang.
    What’s with the fetish of senior officers in dress uniforms having decorations like wallpaper on their uniform jackets? I can handle the metal badges, but I have never understood the rationale behind showing so many ribbons that the full rack is apparently hidden behind the jacket lapel. What’s the point, especially since these decorations are supposed to be placed in a certain order, and that may result in the most important ones being partially hidden?
    I have always felt that the uniform should convey a sense of the dignity of the wearer, and that that value is best served by appropriate understatement. Why not put just the most prominent ribbons on the jacket, completely visible? The full ribbon rack tends to look ridiculous when half of it in intentionally hidden by the garment itself. Or, am I overlooking the obvious about the egos of these folks?

  8. Patrick Lang says:

    I was a COIN practitioner when Petraeus was in knee pants (figuratively). The danger in the COIN fad is the old lesson implicit in the idea that “for a man with a hammer everything looks like a nail.” Gates, a smarter man than most of the generals and not bound by the rules of their mutual admiration society sees the need to be ready to fight a variety of enemies and wars.
    Lincoln? He likes Lincoln?
    Could be, but I doubt it. The generals may have heard their own desires in his politeness.
    A very average lot of human beings.
    Petraeus seems to me to have had a rather small impact on the BG board that he chaired. The general run of generals still want to see mirror imaging of people like Odierno. Petraeus knows that most of them do not like him and is unwilling to annoy them too much. For most of these guys, there is too much “son in law equity” involved to allow a large scale change of priorities in senior promotions. McMasters himeself, a truly excellent man, was promoted largely because of pressure from outside the Army. I know of one other officer promoted on that list who reflects the characteristics you are looking for but that is about it. pl

  9. Patrick Lang says:

    I couldn’t agree more about the uniforms and the ridiculous rows and rows of ribbons, most of which are for staff job “brownie points.” Very few of these guys have medals for valor or wounds. In WW2, the “big guys” generally wore one row of ribbons for their major decorations, DSC, Silver Star, Legion of Merit, etc.
    Marshall wore GS brass on his uniform like any other staff officer.
    Yes. It’s ego. Many of these fellows would rather have been on Wall Street. pl

  10. If I was running a promotion board for flag ranks in the ARMY would find very influential their records as Company Grade officers. After all we are a democracy (Republic) and when entrusted with leadership (not just command) it is interesting to see what some will make of that situation. A predictor of high rank possibly? But it is an important career calibration point of significance. Personally I would always want to look closely at those who always received max OERs by looking closely at who their raters were and their raters raters. The one thing that really worries me about President Obama is that he seems to trust paper credentials and not his own judgement. Well after all never was a junior officer with men carrying loaded weapons.

  11. Fred says:

    Page 1 of the times has this: “The ultimate decision on keeping or withdrawing troops would be taken by Nouri al-Maliki, the Iraqi Prime Minister…” Further on the is the ‘surge worked’ mantra repeated. Not a single mention that violence has increased after the Iraq Prime Minister ordered the Iraqi army to arrest the Sunni’s who had aided in defeating the jihadists. We do, however, have Ordinero telling us, according to the Times, that he’s “keeping an eye on the Iranian backed-Shia militants who are restructuring into groups with a political and military wing, similar to Hezbollah.”. At least we’ll know the neocon talking points for the next 10 years.
    But the best quote of all:
    “I appreciate the fact that you really snatched defeat out of the jaws of those who were trying to defeat us in Iraq”
    George W. Bush, thanking General Odierno in March 2008
    After we get done educating al Maliki on who commands US forces could we at least attempt to educate the ‘free’ press on the same.

  12. jonst says:

    “decorations like wallpaper on their uniform jackets?”.
    Yeah, they remind me of the old days, the Soviet Field Marshals wore medals like that.
    But this is the direction our society has been going in. I may offend some here. That is not my intent. But I noticed this change when I started seeing the term “Veteran” on license plate numberes. I used to say to myself, ‘so what your a veteran…it’s noble of you and all but so what?’. Then they upped it to “combat veteran”. Ah, I said to myself….let the games begin. Sure enough, next came “Purple Heart Combat Veteran”. What’s next? ‘I was at the Battle of Ia Drang Valley?”. “Fallujah? Been there, done that.’? understatement has passed us/US by

  13. Pat Lang,
    I agree with your post and most of the following comments. My own estimation of General Odierno derives from reading, particularly the afore-mentioned “Fiasco” by T. Ricks. I would say that he’s like the guy who won’t allow the train to leave the station without jumping aboard. In 2004 the 4th (Ivy) Div.’s operations reflected the attitudes and ethos of the administration and the military hierarchy. Now he’s completely on board with the counter-insurgency program. I guess the question is whether he will board the next train or not. Perhaps he’s been promoted to the level where he thinks he’s the engineer. Enough of railroads.
    And, yes the ornamentation of American uniforms has reached the level of absurdity.

  14. SAC Brat says:

    I always like my father’s take on watching some general talking from a press conference podium with ribbon excess on his uniform. “It looks like he puked on himself.”

  15. feocito says:

    I think you’re making more of this than it is. Odierno won’t take any unilateral action that will get him cross-wise with our Iraqi partners or with his chain of command. Either there will be a decision to stay in some of the cities, with the mutual support of ALCON, or the letter of the agreements, with no exceptions will be executed. In the latter case, if the results are ugly, those who “forced” that decision are at political risk.
    I therefore envision COA 1 — stay in some cities by exception, with the agreement of the major players.
    OBTW I still think that a similar COA will be followed in 2011, although I know we have to disagree on that.

  16. par4 says:

    Wall Street LOL

  17. N. M. Salamon says:

    I repectfulkly suggest that you read the posting:
    http://graphoilogy.blogspot.com/2008/01/quantitative-assessment-of-future-net.html by an independent US geologist [Dallas, TX]. If his analysis is correct, it would have tremendous impact on DoD and USA foreign policy.
    Moreover, iof correct, then the USA and Europe better get going on alternatove energy,
    Gl and enjoy

  18. Cold War Zoomie Living it Large TDY! says:

    If my memory serves me right, the official name for the rows and rows of ribbons is “Fruit Salad.”
    The Brits called our displays “Toffee Wrappers.”
    Of all the attacks I sustained by the British Forces in the pubs of England, that was the one I could not, and would not, defend – I have no idea why we hand out ribbons like candy. The Air Force is the worst offender as far as I’m concerned. You know how embarrassing it is to wear a ribbon for completing basic training! Yes, I completed six weeks of perfecting the art of folding my socks in EXACT thirds and my t-shirt in an EXACT six inch square! And I have the ribbon to prove it!
    And to see some USAF Tech SGT Chairborne Ranger (Remington Raiders for you really old school Army guys) with four rows of Fruit Salad makes me cringe.
    Funny how these supposed minor issues take control of me.

  19. Rod Coffey says:

    Wow What an over-reaction against Odierno.
    Possibly increasing troop strength in Mosul and Baquba is not in any way inconsistent with reducing overall numbers throughout Iraq. It means shifting within Iraq and based on the current assessments we can still get “out of the cities” in other places and have an overall draw down as far as nation – wide totals.
    Reinforcing select areas with more troops is bound to happen at this point based on the success of the Coalition and the Iraqi government in other areass.
    Mosul and portions of Diyala are where AQI has been squeezed to.

  20. alnval says:

    Col. Lang:
    re N. M. Solomon’s comment:
    I have worked with graphologists whose non-Barnum personality descriptions based on standardized writing samples were literally amazing.
    I was intrigued by the implications of Solomon’s introduing graphology into the mix here. I tried to Google the url but unfortunately there too many errors. If Solomon could try it again, it would be helpful.
    I share CWZ’s distaste (and those of others) at the Fruit Salad phenomenon. Indeed, when I was in (51-53) the Air Force was totally preoccupied with the visual symbols of rank.
    And, if I remember correctly during WWII all army officers wore the same cover without “scrambled eggs” and all officers (company, field and general) had the same 1″ ring on the sleeve of the blouse.
    Oh well.

  21. Ian says:

    Rod Coffey:
    By order of the President all troops are to be withdrawn from Mosul and Baquba by June 30. It’s unambiguous.
    At least MacArthur had Inchon. America is expecting less of its Caesars, apparently.

  22. Redhand says:

    Well, I’m pleased to see that my observations about excessive decorations on U.S. military uniforms resonate with others. The comment that our generals now look like Soviet senior officers is scandalous but true.
    It’s remarkable how less can be more. My deceased father-in-law was a WWII Army vet who took part in the Battle of Peleliu. He was very proud of his Combat Infantryman’s Badge.
    Remarkably, be became that rarest of Air Force birds after WWII, a CWO4 (highest rank of warrant officer) and was, I am sure, the only USAF CWO4 ever to wear a Combat Infantrymn’s badge on his uniform. He really didn’t wear much more than that, but he didn’t need to.

  23. Tyler says:

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe AR 670-1 requires you to wear all the ribbons and medals you qualify for on your Class A uniform.
    Of course I also believe Generals don’t have to follow AR 670-1, so there you go.

  24. Patrick Lang says:

    The AR? you must be joking. pl

  25. Tyler says:

    Its been a few years since I was in (ETS in DEC 2006), Colonel, so feel free to correct me if you know otherwise. I bow to your superior knowledge (no sarcasm intended).
    I only bring it up because I had this very issue come up myself. I was a Specialist(P) being lectured by my 1SG about how YES, I WOULD WEAR THE GWOT because AR 670-1 specified that in the Class A Uniform you wear every bit of frippery you own within the guidelines. I had issues with the GWOT and what it stood for, and he didn’t like it when he didn’t see it on my uniform.
    However, I was able to point out that since I was wearing both of my campaign medals (Iraq/Afghani), I couldn’t wear my GWOT and be in regulation.
    Unfortunately, I ended up pulling some Saturday CQ for three weeks because of my little rebellion. So I guess somethings never change.

  26. Mike Martin, Yorktown, VA says:

    Interesting and rather heroic oil painting of the LTG. But somehow “Odierno of Iraq” lacks the poetry of “Lawrence of Arabia.” Or am I to dumb to recognize the new Patton?
    Re the uniforms, I remember that the original Air Force uniform WAS intended to be distinct, yet subdued. Hence the oxidized insignia and badges. Emphasizing the past tense. No mas.

  27. Jimmy says:

    There was a USNI Proceedings article back in the ’90s, advocating Navy officers to wear only 3 rows of ribbons.

  28. Charles I says:

    Maybe not just Odierno, judging by this from the BBC today:
    “US troops ‘might stay in N Iraq’
    US combat troops may stay in northern Iraq after a deadline for them to pull back by the end of June has passed, the top US commander in the area has said.
    Col Gary Volesky said his soldiers would stay in Mosul and other nearby cities where al-Qaeda remained a threat if the Iraqi government asked them to.. . . ”

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