WASHINGTON, D.C., May 15, 2007 — -- After a frustrating search for a new "war czar" to oversee the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, ABC News has learned that President Bush has chosen the Pentagon's director of operations, Lt. Gen. Douglas Lute, for the role.
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In the newly created position of assistant to the president and deputy national security adviser for Iraq and Afghanistan policy and implementation, Lute would have the power to direct the Pentagon, State Department and other agencies involved in the two conflicts.
Lute would report directly to the president and to National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley.
Filling the position had become a priority for the White House, after a handful of retired generals told the White House they did not want the job. Among them, retired Marine Corps four-star Gen. Jack Sheehan, who proved an embarrassment to the White House after he wrote an op-ed piece in the Washington Post saying there were "huge shortcomings" in the White House view of the strategy in Iraq.
"What I found in discussions with current and former members of this administration," wrote Sheehan, "is that there is no agreed upon strategic view of the Iraq problem or the region."
Lute is a widely respected officer, but is by no means a high-profile player in Washington. Before assuming his position at the Pentagon, he was the director of operations for Central Command while Gen. John Abizaid was the commander.
A West Point graduate who holds a masters degree from Harvard University, Lute also fought in Operation Desert Storm in the 1991 Gulf War.
Lute must gain congressional approval before he can assume the position. He'll likely have two deputies -- one for policy (a civilian), one for implementation (an officer).