Petraeus Hands Off To Odierno

U.S. Commanding General of Multinational Forces in Iraq, David Petraeus, left, is awarded for distinguished service by U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates during a ceremony, Sept. 15, 2008 on the outskirts of Baghdad. AP Photo/Paul J. Richards, Pool

This column was written by CBS News Early Show co-anchor Harry Smith.
General David Petraeus handed over command of U.S. forces in Iraq today to his right hand man, General Ray Odierno.

Both ascribe to a similar philosophy so tactics and missions probably won't change much.

U.S. and Iraqi casualties are way down since Petraeus took charge about a year-and-a-half ago.

Credit should go to the surge. But, not the surge alone.

Two other things happened almost simultaneously. Not long after the surge began Muqtada al Sadr, the powerful Shia leader, told his followers in the guerilla Mahdi Army to stand down.

There has been a ceasefire from them ever since, about the same time Sunni leaders fed up with the ultra-conservative religious bullying of Al Qaeda imports working in Iraq turned against the insurgency and started working with U.S. forces in something called awakening councils.

Petraeus deserves plenty of credit for getting Iraq close to stability. But for the record - the surge had help.

Popular on CBS News

Comments

Watch CBSN Live

Watch CBS News anytime, anywhere with the new 24/7 digital news network. Stream CBSN live or on demand for FREE on your TV, computer, tablet, or smartphone.

Watch Now

New Android App

For your Android phone and tablet, download the FREE redesigned app, featuring CBSN, live 24/7 news.

Download