Bush Names Army General as Senior Advisor for Iraq, Afghanistan

By Vince Crawley
USINFO Staff Writer

Washington - President Bush has nominated a senior U.S. Army general to be his presidential assistant and day-to-day troubleshooter for Iraq and Afghanistan.

The White House announced May 15 that Bush had chosen Lieutenant General Douglas Lute to serve as assistant to the president and deputy national security advisor for Iraq and Afghanistan.

In the newly created position, Lute would be “charged with coordinating the efforts of the Executive Branch to support our commanders and senior diplomats on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan,” the White House said. His appointment must be approved by the U.S. Senate.

Lute will report directly to the president and will work closely with National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley, the White House said. He will have the authority to quickly identify and remedy problems by working directly with agency heads and Cabinet secretaries, such as Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

Lute is empowered by the president to request and receive information, personnel and assistance from federal departments and has a goal of “same-day service” in responding to requests from commanders and diplomats in Iraq and Afghanistan, the White House said.

The U.S. news media have labeled Lute’s position as a “war czar” to recognize his high level of authority, but the U.S. government does not use the term.

White House press secretary Tony Snow said at a May 16 briefing that Lute has a wide mandate. “The portfolio is a lot broader” than just the Defense Department and State Department, Snow said. “It includes departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Justice and others.”

An important part of Lute’s job is to cut through bureaucracy and quickly address problems raised by U.S. ambassadors and commanders, Snow said.

“Part of his job is ... to make sure that people in the field are getting the kind of support and resources they need to get the job done,” Snow said, adding that Lute will communicate regularly with commanders and ambassadors so that “we can be as effective as possible.”

Lute has served in the Army since 1975, serving in the 1991 Gulf War and commanding troops in Kosovo in 2002. In 2004, he became director of operations for U.S. Central Command, the headquarters for U.S. forces in Iraq, Afghanistan and the Horn of Africa. In 2006, he became director of operations for the Joint Staff at the Pentagon.

“General Lute is a tremendously accomplished military leader who understands war and government and knows how to get things done,” Bush said in a White House statement.

A fact sheet on Lute’s nomination is available on the White House Web site.