Heritage language programs take note:
Harold F. Schiffman
haroldfs at ccat.sas.upenn.edu
Thu Jun 19 14:10:28 UTC 2003
>>From the Philadelphia Enquirer, Posted on Thu, Jun. 19, 2003
Nominee to replace Franks speaks Arabic: A general of Lebanese descent is
picked to lead Central Command, and Afghan and Iraqi efforts.
By Matt Kelley
WASHINGTON - An Arabic-speaking Army general of Lebanese descent has been
nominated to replace Gen. Tommy Franks as head of U.S. Central Command,
the Pentagon announced yesterday. The nomination of Lt. Gen. John Abizaid,
currently second-in-command under Franks, was widely expected after Franks
announced last month that he would retire this summer. Abizaid must be
confirmed by the Senate before taking the reins at Central Command, which
oversees U.S. military operations from the Horn of Africa to Central Asia,
including Iraq and a large swath of the Middle East.
Abizaid, a grandson of Lebanese immigrants, speaks fluent Arabic, which he
studied at a university in Jordan. He also holds a master's degree in
Middle East studies from Harvard and has said he loves the region's people
and culture. Abizaid referred to that background during a news conference
at the height of combat in Iraq.
"I'm a soldier and I do my best, but I would say, as a person who has
studied the Arab world and loves the Arab world, that the majority of
educated Arabs that I talk to know that Saddam Hussein has been a plague
on the Arab world and on his own people, and they welcome his removal,"
Abizaid said March 23. If confirmed, he would take control of the
continuing military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as the hunt
for terrorists in the region, which has been the home base of al-Qaeda.
"You begin with the fact that he's a great soldier," retired Army Gen.
Bill Nash said about Abizaid in March. "And then you add to that the fact
that he is savvy to the world of political military affairs. "And of
course, in this particular case, his unique qualification is that he is
fluent in Arabic and understands that region extremely well," said Nash,
who has known Abizaid for more than 20 years. They worked together most
recently in Kosovo.
Before becoming the No. 2 general at Central Command, Abizaid held two top
positions for the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the Pentagon. He also has
served as commandant of the military academy at West Point, commander of a
battalion providing humanitarian relief in northern Iraq after the 1991
Persian Gulf War, and company commander during the 1983 invasion of
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