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General Petraeus to head U.S. forces in Middle East

The move brings greater focus to the conflict in Afghanistan. Lt. Gen. Odierno is set to succeed Petraeus in Iraq.

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The US Army general who is directing the surge of American troops against the insurgency in Iraq will now be promoted to command the wars in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

Gen. David Petraeus, seen as the public face of the war in Iraq, has been nominated to lead US Central Command in Tampa, Fla.

Even as critics decry US policy there, General Petraeus is widely credited for implementing a more pointed strategy that, along with the surge of 30,000 American troops, has led to reduced violence on the ground.

But the move to reassign him to Central Command may help emphasize the NATO-led mission in Afghanistan, which members of Congress, analysts, and military officials believe is suffering from a lack of focus. General Petraeus has earned a reputation as an expert in fighting insurgencies, and that expertise is much needed in Afghanistan, analysts say.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates also announced the nomination of Lt. Gen. Ray Odierno to succeed Petraeus as commander of Multi-National Force-Iraq.

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