Ray Odierno will be the fifth four-star Army general to lead U.S. forces in Iraq since the war began in 2003.
- The invasion was launched under the command of Gen. Tommy Franks, who retired in July 2003 just as an insurgency was emerging.
- Both Franks and his successor, Gen. John Abizaid, had wider responsibilities leading U.S. Central Command and they did not operate from Iraq.
- The senior on-the-ground commander during Abizaid's tenure was Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, who departed in June 2004, scarred by the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal.
- The first four-star to run the war from Baghdad was Gen. George Casey, who was appointed commander of the Multi-National Force in Iraq in July 2004. His strategy of passing off security responsibility to the Iraqis as quickly as possible ran aground in 2006, leading President Bush to find a new strategy.
- Casey was succeeded in February 2007 by Gen. David Petraeus, who implemented Bush's new approach. Petraeus is widely credited with stabilizing Iraq and reviving hope that defeat can be averted.