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Terrorism & Security

Speculation persists about Admiral Fallon's departure from Pentagon

Broad outspokenness, and not a White House plan for war with Iran, most likely led to his retirement from Central Command.

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For example, US News and World Report blogger Terry Atlas offers "six developments that may have Iran as a common thread. And, if it comes to war, they may be seen as clues as to what was planned." In addition to Fallon's departure, Mr. Atlas also cites Vice President Dick Cheney's Middle East visit, the presence of US warships near Lebanon, and Israeli military action against Hizbullah and Syria in the past few years. Atlas notes however that all of the events he cites have possible explanations that are independent of Iran.

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Less speculatively, Bloomberg quotes several politicians, including Sens. John Kerry, Hillary Rodham Clinton, and Chuck Hagel, expressing their concerns over his departure and its ramifications in regard to US policy toward Iran.

But Secretary of Defense Robert Gates dismissed allegations of a pending war with Iran, reports the Financial Times.

Mr Gates said suggestions that the resignation indicated the US was preparing for war with Iran were "ridiculous," comments later echoed by Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the joint chiefs.... Many current and former officers believe Adm Fallon was not a dove on Iran but was concerned that belligerent rhetoric from the US could provoke an accidental war. Adm Fallon's positions had rankled with the White House on several occasions. Officials were upset in November when he suggested to the Financial Times that the administration's rhetoric on Iran was "not particularly helpful."

The Washington Times writes that some military officials welcomed his departure, criticizing Fallon for failing to prevent foreign fighters from crossing into Iraq, thereby making US efforts there more difficult.

"The fact is that [Central Command] had the external responsibility to protect our troops in Iraq from the outside and under Fallon they failed to do it," said retired Maj. Gen. Paul Vallely, a military analyst. "We have done nothing to protect our soldiers from external threats in Iraq." Others said Adm. Fallon was pushed to resign. "No matter what [Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates] said [Tuesday], we know for a fact Admiral Fallon was fired," said a former senior Defense official who works closely with military officials in the region. "We have kids — soldiers — getting killed because Iran, Syria and other foreign fighters are coming across the border into Iraq, and yet Fallon was unwilling to do anything to hold [those nations] accountable."
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