WASHINGTON, D.C., Jan. 4, 2006 -- As President Bush prepares to announce a new direction for U.S. policy in Iraq, he is also expected to name new military commanders to carry out that mission.
Officials told ABC News a wild card naval aviator, Adm. William Fallon, has been asked to take over Iraq's Central Command and replace Gen. John Abizaid when he retires in March. The official announcement is expected Monday.
Fallon currently heads Pacific Command, overseeing U.S. military forces in the Pacific and Indian Ocean areas. The new job would have him taking charge of operations in Afghanistan. While it is highly unusual that a Navy admiral would be called upon to run essentially two ground operations, Bush wants fresh eyes on the situation.
The president is also expected to replace the overall commander in Iraq, Gen. George Casey. Officials said Casey's replacement is expected to be Lt. Gen. David Petraeus who has completed two tours in Iraq -- one as a division commander during the invasion and another heading the training of Iraq's security forces. He completed that job in 2005.
Casey has been in Iraq since June 2004 and had hoped to have U.S. troop levels significantly reduced by the end of last year. Instead, the president is expected to call for as many as 20,000 additional troops when he speaks to the nation next week.
Upon leaving his post in Iraq, Casey will become chief of staff of the Army, ABC News has learned.