Petraeus Picked to Replace Fallon as Top Middle East Commander

UPDATED 2:08 p.m.:

Gen. David Petraeus, the top U.S. military commander in Iraq, has been picked by Defense Secretary Robert Gates to head all U.S. forces in the Middle East.

Army Lt. Gen. Ray Odierno will reportedly be nominated to replace Petraeus.

If confirmed by the Senate, Petraeus would replace Adm. William Fallon who resigned in March.

Fallon was pressured to resign after an Esquire magazine article portrayed the Admiral as the lone voice within the military opposing a war with Iran.

At the press conference announcing the decision, Gates said he recommended Petraeus because he is "absolutely confident" Petraeus is "the best man for the job."

"I don't know anybody in the United States military better qualified to led that effort."

Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) hailed the Petraeus pick, saying he has "the utmost confidence [Petraeus's] leadership."

"Once confirmed, our nation will be fortunate to have General Petraeus guide our strategy to protect American interests in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq and the wider region of the world," the Republican leader said.

Democratic leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) was less enthusiastic. Reid said the challenges facing the next President "will require fresh, independent and creative thinking and, if directed to by a new President, a commitment to implementing major changes in strategy."

"The Senate will carefully examine these nominations and I will be looking for credible assurances of a strong commitment to implementing a more effective national security strategy," Reid said.