WASHINGTON – The Senate Armed Services Committee voted Thursday to promote Gen. David Petraeus to become the top commander in the Middle East.
Senators on the panel also agreed by voice vote that Lt. Gen. Raymond Odierno should receive a fourth star and replace Petraeus as chief commander in Iraq.
The committee action paves the way for a favorable vote on the nominations by the Senate.
Last year, Petraeus helped to tame growing opposition to the Iraq war in Congress by providing measured assessments of progress and warning that an exodus of U.S. troops would result in chaos. In the meantime, he advocated a buildup of some 30,000 troops in Baghdad and other hotspots, which eventually proved vital in tamping down violence.
Odierno had served as Petraeus' deputy commander in Iraq. He is credited by many in Congress with successfully managing the new strategy.
The Pentagon is on track to withdraw the last of the additional combat brigades by next month, leaving behind roughly 142,000 troops. In question is whether the decline in violence can be maintained and how many more U.S. troops can come home this election year.
Petraeus has told Congress that he is likely to recommend further troop reductions this fall.
Petraeus would replace Navy Adm. William J. Fallon as chief of U.S. Central Command. Fallon resigned last month following news reports that he was at odds with the White House over Iran policy.