WASHINGTON, DC – Congressman Ike Skelton (D-MO), Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, released the following statement concerning the Department of Defense’s announced military leadership changes, including the retirement of the Army Chief of Staff and new commanders in Iraq:

“I appreciate the courtesy of Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who called to inform me this morning about a number of key military personnel changes.    

General Peter Schoomaker, Army Chief of Staff, plans to retire from the Army for a second time.   General Schoomaker has set a superb example of what it means to serve the people of the United States of America, and I thank him and his family for their dedication and sacrifices through the years.    

General George Casey will rotate from his position as the Commander of the Multi-National Force in Iraq to accept nomination as the new Army Chief of Staff.   In another change, General John Abizaid will leave his position as Commander of U.S. Central Command.  

Undertaking new assignments to fill the critical positions vacated by General Abizaid and General Casey will be Admiral William Fallon as Commander of U.S. Central Command and General David Petraeus as the Commanding General of the Multi-National Force in Iraq.  

Admiral Fallon, who currently leads U.S. Pacific Command, is one of America’s best strategists. I am confident that he will be able to work across service lines as CENTCOM Commander.   General Petraeus has already held two successful leadership positions in Iraq and is a first-class leader.   If anyone can help motivate the Iraqis into taking on more security responsibility and well lead American forces in Iraq, it is he.

I look forward to working with these fine commanders as we all strive to improve the status of our military and find a successful way to bring our troops home from Iraq.    The President has a fine new team here.   I hope he matches it with a new strategy that will shift responsibility for security to Iraqis and begin the responsible redeployment of American forces.”