When Admiral William Fallon was appointed by George W. Bush to head the Central Command (CENTCOM) last year, the assumption was that he was being put in place to lead a massive air assault against Iran. Sy Hersh reported last year, that given a ground invasion was out of the question, one of the options being proposed by the Navy and Air Force was massive bombardment of Iranian strategic targets.
Explaining why he recommended Fallon, Gates said, “As you look at the range of options available to the United States, the use of naval and air power, potentially, it made sense to me for all those reasons for Fallon to have the job.”
As it turns out, Fallon is having nothing of it. While Washington were pushing for a 3 aircraft carrier groups to be within striking distance of Iran, Fallon opposed the move.
Fallon’s resistance to a further buildup of naval striking power in the Gulf apparently took the Bush administration by surprise. Fallon, then commander of the U.S. Pacific Command, had been associated with naval aviation throughout his career, and last January, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates publicly encouraged the idea that the appointment presaged greater emphasis on the military option in regard to the U.S. conflict with Iran.
Fallon goes further and doesn’t mince words.
Fallon’s refusal to support a further naval buildup in the Gulf reflected his firm opposition to an attack on Iran and an apparent readiness to put his career on the line to prevent it. A source who met privately with Fallon around the time of his confirmation hearing and who insists on anonymity quoted Fallon as saying that an attack on Iran “will not happen on my watch.”
Asked how he could be sure, the source says, Fallon replied, “You know what choices I have. I’m a professional.” Fallon said that he was not alone, according to the source, adding, “There are several of us trying to put the crazies back in the box.”
This must have the “crazies” climbing the walls.
The defeat of the plan for a third carrier task group in the Gulf appears to have weakened the position of Cheney and other hawks in the administration who had succeeded in selling Bush on the idea of a strategy of coercive threat against Iran.
In fact, Fallon has threatened to resign if his decision is overridden. At last, we have a senior military figure willing to put principal before career.