The White House ended its search for a war czar on Tuesday, tasking Lt. Gen. Douglas Lute, director of operations of the Pentagon's Joint Staff, to assume the newly-created position.
Lute represents an intriguing choice for the post, considering that he is one of the few active-duty generals who have publicly acknowledged the difficulty of encouraging the Iraqis to assume control of their own security.
Then director of operations at US Central Command, Lute told the Financial Times in August 2005:
"We believe at some point, in order to break this dependence on the . . . coalition, you simply have to back off and let the Iraqis step forward.
"You have to undercut the perception of occupation in Iraq. It's very difficult to do that when you have 150,000-plus, largely western, foreign troops occupying the country."
Lute's official title will become deputy national security adviser to the president for Iraq and Afghanistan policy and implementation, and as such he will be Bush's top policy coordinator for the two wars.
Before assuming his position on the Pentagon's Joint Staff, Lute spent more than two years as Director of Operations (J-3) at US Central Command, where he oversaw combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as other operations in the Middle East, Central Asia, and the Horn of Africa, according to his official bio.