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Bush picks veteran of anti-terror planning to head Joint Chiefs

Saturday, April 23, 2005

WASHINGTON -- On the desk of Gen. Peter Pace is a photograph of the first Marine who died following Pace's orders: Lance Cpl. Guido Farinaro, killed in combat in Vietnam in 1968 when the general was a lieutenant.

That photo is a sign of his devotion to the troops, President Bush said Friday, naming Pace to serve as the nation's top military officer, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

"I've come to rely on Peter Pace's wisdom, judgment and sense of humor," said Bush, noting Pace's tenure as the vice chairman. "We'll need his wisdom and determination as we continue to transform our armed forces so we can defeat today's enemies while preparing ourselves for military challenges we will face as this new century unfolds."

Since becoming vice chairman on Oct. 1, 2001, Pace has quietly helped shape the Pentagon's role in the global war on terrorism. If he is approved by the Senate, he will take command of a military fighting guerrilla wars in Iraq and Afghanistan even as it reshapes itself toward Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld's vision of a lighter, more flexible force.

The selection of Pace signals no stark change in direction from the command of his boss, Air Force Gen. Richard Myers, due to retire Sept. 30 after four years on the job. In the past, vice chairmen have focused on weapons acquisition, but Pace has said 80 percent of his duties are devoted to operations in the war on terrorism.

In a ceremony at the White House, Pace thanked Bush for his "trust and faith in me." He said the promotion was "exhilarating," but added, "I know the challenges ahead are formidable."

Pace, 59, is expected to win Senate confirmation easily. He is the first Marine to be named chairman.

Pace is described by subordinates as warm and sincere, with a humble charisma and sense of humor. In conversation, he drives home a point by putting it in terms of the common soldier, describing things "from Pfc. Pace's point of view."

The son of an Italian immigrant, Pace was born in Brooklyn, N.Y. and raised in Teaneck, N.J. Pace and his wife, Lynne, have a daughter, Tiffany Marie, and a son, Peter, a captain in the Marine reserves.

After returning from Vietnam in 1969, he held a number of ceremonial and educational posts in the military.

At the ceremony, Bush said he was also nominating Navy Adm. Edmund Giambastiani Jr. to replace Pace as vice chairman.

After mangling Giambastiani's name, Bush said to laughter: "He shall be known as Admiral G."

He was stationed in South Korea in the mid-1980s. His official biography mentions no service in the first Iraq war.

From December 1992 to February 1993, he was deputy commander of the Marine forces that averted further famine in Somalia; from October 1993 to March 1994, he returned to assist in supervising the withdrawal of U.S. forces after the "Black Hawk Down" firefight.

He was promoted to four-star general in 2000, when he took over the U.S. Southern Command, the military command that oversees operations in Latin America.

Pace's appointment tracks with other recent high-level appointments at the Pentagon, Thompson said.

"There's an absence of stridency or ideology. Instead what you get is capable managers committed to making the plan work," he said.

The Joint Chiefs chairman, who normally serves two, two-year terms, is the senior military adviser to the president and the secretary of defense. However, the general commands no troops and is not in the chain of command that runs from the president to the secretary of defense to commanders in the field.

At the ceremony, Bush said he was also nominating Navy Adm. Edmund Giambastiani Jr. to replace Pace as vice chairman.

After mangling Giambastiani's name, Bush said to laughter: "He shall be known as Admiral G."


On the Net:

Defense Department: http://www.defense.gov

U.S. Marine Corps: http://www.usmc.mil


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