Friday, April 22, 2005

Bush Nominates Pace as Top U.S. Military Officer

Yahoo! News
Bush Nominates Pace as Top U.S. Military Officer

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Bush on Friday nominated Marine Gen. Peter Pace, who has played a key role in shaping strategy in the war on terrorism, to serve as chairman of the U.S. military's Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Bush said Pace "knows the job well" having served as vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff since 2001. "This is a huge task, even in peace time," Bush added.

Once confirmed by the Senate, Pace, 59, would become the first Marine Corps officer to serve as chairman -- the highest ranking U.S. military officer and principal military adviser to the president and defense secretary.

As chairman, Pace will face daunting problems at the Pentagon as U.S. budget deficits clash with the rising cost of warships, fighter jets and other high-tech programs planned to replace aging Cold War weaponry.

"I know the challenges ahead are formidable," Pace said.

Bush also nominated Navy Adm. Edmund Giambastiani Jr., 56, a former senior military assistant to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, to replace Pace as vice chairman.

Bush stumbled over Giambastiani's name, and joked that he would henceforth refer to him as "Admiral G."

Pace, seen as closely aligned with Rumsfeld, previously headed Southern Command, responsible for U.S. military operations in Latin America.

As Joint Chiefs of Staff vice chairman, Pace has been involved in overseeing the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Pace would replace Air Force Gen. Richard Myers, 63, who is set to retire on Sept. 30.

Myers has been the top U.S. military officer since Oct. 1, 2001, just after the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States.

Pace, born in Brooklyn and raised in Teaneck, New Jersey, graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy before serving in the Vietnam War, where he led a rifle platoon.

The Joint Chiefs of Staff consists of a chairman and vice chairman as well as the top officers of the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines.