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Posted: Jan 7 2007, 12:17 AM
Member No.: 331
Joined: 20-October 06
Sunday, January 7, 2007; Page A01
Lt. Gen. David H. Petraeus, who is President Bush's choice to become the top U.S. military commander in Iraq, posed a riddle during the initial march to Baghdad four years ago that now becomes his own conundrum to solve: "Tell me how this ends."
That query, uttered repeatedly to a reporter then embedded in Petraeus's 101st Airborne Division, revealed a flinty skepticism about prospects in Iraq -- and the man now asked to forestall a military debacle.
Long recognized as one of the Army's premier intellectuals, with a PhD from Princeton to complement his West Point education, Petraeus, 54, will inherit one of the toughest assignments handed any senior officer since the Vietnam War. He takes command of 132,000 U.S. troops in a country shattered by insurgency and sectarian bloodletting, with a home front that is divided and disheartened after 3,000 American combat deaths. If his riddle of 2003 remains apt, so does the headline on a Newsweek cover story about Petraeus in July 2004: "Can This Man Save Iraq?"