SAN ANTONIO (AP) – The top-ranking general in Texas, who last year publicly questioned whether President Bush's decision to send more troops to Iraq would work, will retire later this year, officials said.
Gen. William R. Looney III, who runs the Air Education and Training Command at Randolph Air Force Base, will be replaced by Lt. Gen. Stephen R. Lorenz, the Air Force announced Thursday. Lorenz is the head of the service's Air University at Maxwell Air Force base in Alabama.
An air force base spokesman said the retirement had nothing to do with Looney's remarks, which were considered unusual because active-duty generals do not typically express doubt publicly about military strategy.
Most senior officers remain on duty for no more than 35 years, spokesman Dave Smith said. Looney received his commission in 1972 after graduating from the Air Force Academy.
In January 2007, Looney told a group of Rotarians that he was unsure whether President Bush's plan to send an additional 21,500 troops to Iraq would be effective.
"I'm not sure 20,000 will do anything," Looney told the group. "We need more than we have, that's for sure."
Without mentioning him by name, Looney also took issue with then-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's order to limit the number of U.S. troops in Iraq throughout the occupation.
"Our misstep here was we believed we could do this on the cheap, to be very candid," Looney said.
Looney said then that he made his remarks because he felt "an obligation to tell it like it is, I always have, and let the chips fall where they may."
Information from: San Antonio Express-News, www.mysanantonio.com
Copyright 2008 The Associated Press.