Best Defense

Thomas E. Ricks' daily take on national security.

SEALs on a roll — and what it means for Centcom, U.S. military, and Afghan war

I see where Vice Adm. Robert Harward has been nominated to succeed John Allen as the deputy commander at Central Command. Three things strike me about this: –First, what a week for the SEALs — Adm. William McRaven oversees the SEAL raid that gets bin Laden, and now McRaven’s doppelganger becomes the first Special Operator ...

jeffreyww/Flickr
jeffreyww/Flickr
jeffreyww/Flickr

I see where Vice Adm. Robert Harward has been nominated to succeed John Allen as the deputy commander at Central Command.

Three things strike me about this:

--First, what a week for the SEALs -- Adm. William McRaven oversees the SEAL raid that gets bin Laden, and now McRaven's doppelganger becomes the first Special Operator (at least that I can remember) to get one of the two top posts at Centcom. Also, we have the christening of a Navy ship named for SEAL Michael Murphy.

I see where Vice Adm. Robert Harward has been nominated to succeed John Allen as the deputy commander at Central Command.

Three things strike me about this:

–First, what a week for the SEALs — Adm. William McRaven oversees the SEAL raid that gets bin Laden, and now McRaven’s doppelganger becomes the first Special Operator (at least that I can remember) to get one of the two top posts at Centcom. Also, we have the christening of a Navy ship named for SEAL Michael Murphy.

–Second, it is interesting that Centcom has been led by a series of Navy Department officers — Adm. Fallon before Petraeus, Marine Gen. Mattis after him, and now a Naval officer replacing a Marine officer as deputy.

–Third, with this following the move of Petraeus to CIA, I wonder if we are seeing personnel moves as part of preparation to turn AfPak over to Special Operators and CIA — that is, moving away from conventional forces to a smaller but serious counterterror approach.

Bonus fact: As a teenager, Harward lived in Tehran and, like me at the time, knocked around Afghanistan. (He got deadly sick in Kandahar, and I did in Peshawar. The main thing I miss about being young is that resliency.) I expect he will be Centcom’s lead Iran-watcher.  

Thomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military from 1991 to 2008 for the Wall Street Journal and then the Washington Post. He can be reached at ricksblogcomment@gmail.com. Twitter: @tomricks1

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