tampabay.com

General is picked as new 'war czar'

By ASSOCIATED PRESS
Published May 16, 2007


WASHINGTON - President Bush has chosen Lt. Gen. Douglas Lute, the Pentagon's director of operations, to oversee the fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan as a "war czar" after a long search for new leadership, administration officials said Tuesday.

In the newly created position, Lute would serve as an assistant to the president and as a deputy national security adviser, and would also maintain his military status and rank as a three-star general, according to a Pentagon official.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because Bush had not yet made an announcement.

Creation of the new job comes as the administration tries to use a combat troop buildup in Iraq to bring a degree of calm so political reconciliation can take hold.

The White House has sought a war coordinator to eliminate conflicts among the Pentagon, the State Department and other agencies - and to speak for the president at times.

The addition will help Stephen Hadley, Bush's national security adviser, who monitors hot spots around the world.

Bush's move is part of a lengthy reshuffling of war leaders. Yet critics have questioned whether a new coordinator will help so late in the Bush presidency or will instead add confusion in the chain of command.

The Bush administration has avoided the term "war czar." Lute's title would be assistant to the president and deputy national security adviser for Iraq and Afghanistan policy and implementation.

Lute became director of operations for the Joint Chiefs of Staff in September.

Before that, he served for more than two years as director of operations at U.S. Central Command, overseeing combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, along with other regions.

A West Point graduate, he has had an extensive military career, including service as the executive assistant to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs.