Cameron Gray June 4,2004
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Pentagon To Replace Sanchez As Iraq Chief
The Pentagon is considering replacing Army Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez as the top U.S. military officer in Iraq, defense officials said on Monday, but denied the Abu Ghraib Iraqi prisoner abuse scandal was the reason.
A senior defense official said Sanchez has served in Iraq for 13 months and that Army and Marine Corps division commanders all have rotated out of the country during that time period.
Asked if the prisoner abuse scandal, which took place on Sanchez's watch, was the reason for considering a replacement for the general, the official said, "Absolutely not."
Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman refused to confirm or deny an ABC News report that Gen. George Casey, vice chief of staff of the Army, would take over as senior U.S. military officer in Iraq. Kimmitt said military officials in Iraq had always expected Sanchez to depart sometime after the June 30 transfer of power.
One Pentagon source said Gen. George Casey, Army vice chief of staff, has emerged as the top candidate to replace Sanchez and assume the new position of unified commander of military forces in Iraq. "There has been no final decision on a replacement, but Gen. Casey is a top candidate," said one official.