Vice Blog

By Tony Bertuca / June 21, 2011 at 4:58 PM

The commanding general of U.S. forces in Iraq is being discussed as a possible nominee to become the next vice chief of staff of the Army, according to a service source.

Gen. Lloyd James Austin III replaced Gen. Raymond Odierno in Iraq last June. Odierno has been nominated to replace Army Chief of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey, who has been nominated to become Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

“That is the only name that has come across right now,” the source said.

News of discussions surrounding Austin's possible nomination were first reported today in a Lexington Institute blog.

If confirmed, Dempsey will begin as JCS in the fall when Adm. Michael Mullen steps down. Some in the Army are reportedly worried about the chaos associated with the change in that Dempsey has been chief only since April.

If Austin becomes the nominee, he would be in line to replace Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Peter Chiarelli, who the source said might stay on past his tour of duty to ensure a smoother transition.

“They want to avoid turbulence during the changeover of chiefs and [Chiarelli] made a passing reference to it in a meeting,” the source said. “They really don't want to switch out both within 30 days of each other. That's not particularly useful.”

Austin's previous jobs include director of the joint staff and commanding general of 18th Airborne Corps at Ft. Bragg, NC.