WASHINGTON – Gen. Tommy Franks (search), who ran the war against Iraq from a Central Command outpost in the Persian Gulf nation of Qatar, returned with little fanfare to his headquarters in Tampa, Fla., on Saturday.
He left Qatar (search) on Friday, a day after President Bush declared that major combat operations in Iraq had ended and that the main focus for the U.S. military has shifted to stabilizing and rebuilding Iraq.
Franks is credited with developing a war plan that efficiently defeated the Iraqis with fewer U.S. casualties than many had expected. He also ran the 2001 war against Afghanistan (search) that toppled the Taliban regime and ended Afghanistan's role as a haven for the Al Qaeda terrorist network.
He did not publicly announce in advance his intention to return to Tampa on Saturday.
"General Franks is a private and modest man who wanted a private and modest arrival," his chief spokesman, Jim Wilkinson, said by telephone shortly after Franks and his senior staff arrived at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa.
They were greeted only by a small number of their family members, including Franks' wife, Cathy.
Franks left his Tampa headquarters in early March and ran the war from a forward operating headquarters at Camp As Sayliyah, near the Qatari capital of Doha. A couple of hundred Central Command officers will remain at Camp As Sayliyah for the time being to keep it in operating condition, Wilkinson said. The main military operations are being run out of facilities in Baghdad.
Franks plans to fly to Washington this week for a series of meetings at the Pentagon.
Approaching the end of his tenure as commander of Central Command, Franks is likely to retire this summer, although some have said he might accept an offer by Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld to succeed Gen. Eric Shinseki as Army chief of staff. Shinseki is due to retire in June.
It's not clear who will succeed Franks as Central Command commander, but one likely candidate is Army Lt. Gen. John Abizaid, who was Franks' top deputy at Camp As Sayliyah during the war.