Saturday, February 03, 2007

Opinion (William M. Arkin): New Middle East Commander Correctly Stays in His Lane

Adm. William J. Fallon, the incoming commander of U.S. military forces in the Middle East, showed a bit of his Navy biases yesterday, speaking of Iran's ability to deny U.S. access to Persian Gulf oil.

Fallon also described the Horn of Africa as sitting astride "one of the most critical sea lines of communication in the world."

"It is imperative that we maintain freedom of navigation to ensure strategic maritime access to the CENTCOM AOR [area of responsibility] and freedom of movement of ocean-borne commerce," he said.

It's enough to make you nostalgic for the Cold War.

Oh Fallon, of course, said all of the right things, uttering the mantra that Iraq was broken and expressing his confidence that the United States could put it back together again. He acknowledged that time was short, but wasn't interested in speculating about any kind of timetable.

But the ease with which Fallon described Iran in conventional terms, in naval parlance, should be a reminder that above all else, the Admiral has spent the last 30 plus years in the Navy.