The Gamble

[Photo of David H. Petraeus]

Gen. David H. Petraeus

Became top commander of U.S. forces in Iraq in 2007, charged with executing the "surge" strategy. Testified that "a premature drawdown of our forces would likely have devastating consequences." Became head of Central Command in October 2008. Official Bio »

[Photo of Raymond T. Odierno]

Gen. Raymond T. Odierno

The former 4th Infantry Division commander arrived to a "fairly desperate" situation as No. 2 commander in Iraq in 2006. Became the lone senior active-duty officer to advocate the "surge." Currently the top commander of U.S. forces in Iraq. Official Bio »

[Photo of Jack Keane]

Gen. Jack Keane

An influential former Army vice chief of staff, Keane served as a key ally to Odierno in Washington, providing him a back-channel to White House staff members and key figures in the military.

[Photo of John P. Abizaid]

Gen. John P. Abizaid

Served as head of U.S. Central Command from 2003 to 2007. Abizaid opposed the "surge," telling a Senate panel in November 2006: "I do not believe that more American troops right now is the solution to the problem."

[Photo of William Fallon]

Adm. William "Fox" Fallon

Succeeded Abizaid as head of U.S. Central Command in March 2007. An advocate of troop withdrawal, Fallon clashed sharply with Petraeus. Resigned in March 2008 amid controversy over his public criticism of the Bush administration.

[Photo of George Casey Jr.]

Gen. George Casey Jr.

Current U.S. Army Chief of Staff, served as top U.S. commander in Iraq from 2004 to 2007. Opposed Odierno's push for more troops: "It is going against everything that we've been working on for the last two and a half years."

[Photo of Peter Pace]

Gen. Peter Pace

As chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Pace was skeptical of an increase in U.S. troops in Iraq, worried that the armed forces were stretched to the breaking point. Stepped down in October 2007 and retired from the Marine Corps a year later.

[Photo of Robert M. Gates]

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates

The former CIA chief succeeded Donald H. Rumsfeld in 2006. His appointment marked a significant turning point in the Bush administration's stance on the war, with the president publicly acknowledging that "we're not winning, we're not losing" in Iraq.

[Photo of Ryan C. Crocker]

Ambassador Ryan C. Crocker

Became Ambassador to Iraq in March 2007. A partner to Petraeus in defending the surge, he testified as to its progress: "Our increased presence made besieged communities feel that they could defeat al-Qaeda by working with us."

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