By Debbie Stevenson
Killeen Daily Herald
FORT HOOD Lt. Gen. Raymond Odierno, who led the 4th Infantry Division during its first deployment to Iraq in 2003, has been officially nominated to take the helm of III Corps and Fort Hood.
If approved by the Senate, Odierno will succeed Lt. Gen. Thomas F. Metz, commander of III Corps and Fort Hood.
I feel very fortunate to have been nominated by the president to do this job, said Odierno during a telephone call Monday from Washington.
The command will return Odierno and his wife, Linda, to Fort Hood for a third time.
It is a great place, he said. It is the center of what were doing in the Army.
Odierno said a time has not been set because a successor for his current position at the Pentagon has not been named.
Were still working out the timing, Odierno said. I would suspect, if everything goes smoothly, sometime in May/June timeframe. A lot of it has to do with my replacement.
Metz was nominated on Jan. 18 for the position of deputy commanding general/chief of staff for the Fort Monroe, Va.-based Training and Doctrine Command. In an e-mailed response to the Daily Herald about his pending departure, Metz said leaving Fort Hood was not something he was looking forward to.
We will have spent 11 of the past 14 years in III Corps, almost seven of which were here at Fort Hood, Metz said. Over these years, tremendous friendships have been established, which Im sure well keep for the rest of our lives.
Still, Metz said he welcomed the new assignment.
Corps command must come to an end some day, and to have a role in the Armys training and in shaping its future is an honor, Metz said. I will take on the Training and Doctrine Commands deputy commanding general position after 40 years in uniform, and continued service for soldiers, the Army and our nation is indeed my privilege.
Odiernos nomination was officially announced Monday by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. The nomination now goes before the Senate for confirmation.
Odierno is assistant to Marine Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the Pentagon.
He said his wife was looking forward to the prospect of returning to Texas.
She feels comfortable there. She understands the area, Odierno said. She made friendships with a lot of people.
A native of Rockaway Township in northern New Jersey, Odierno attended the United States Military Academy at West Point, graduating in June 1976 with a bachelor of science degree. He went on to earn masters degrees in nuclear effects engineering and national security and strategy from North Carolina State University and the Naval War College.
Odierno commanded the 4th Infantry from October 2001 to June 2004 and deployed to Iraq during from April 2003 to April 2004. During that time, the division occupied three provinces north of Baghdad that became known as the Sunni Triangle. The division set up its headquarters in a palace in Tikrit, the hometown of deposed Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein. The divisions 1st Brigade was credited with Saddams Dec. 13, 2004, capture at a farm just south of his elaborate palace compound.
Saddams arrest was a major operational and psychological defeat for the enemy, Odierno told reporters in January 2004 while still in Tikrit.
The capture, however, did not lessen the insurgency. Almost a year later, the Odierno family paid a personal price.
Odiernos son, Capt. Anthony Odierno, was seriously wounded, losing an arm while in Baghdad in August 2004 with the 1st Cavalry Division as a platoon leader.
Odierno began his current assignment at the Pentagon on Nov. 3, 2004. Maj. Gen. James D. Thurman is the 4th Infantrys commander and is leading the division during its ongoing second tour to Iraq, this time based in Baghdad.
A year and a half later, Odierno said his son remains in the Army and had been an aide to Pace since August.
Hes progressing very well, physically plus mentally, Odierno said. Were very proud of him. Hes a good soldier and a good person.
Contact Debbie Stevenson at email@example.com