WASHINGTON - Adm. William Fallon, the top U.S. military commander for the Middle East, is resigning, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Tuesday.
Gates said that Fallon had asked him for permission to retire and that Gates agreed. "I believe he has made the right decision," Gates told reporters at the Pentagon. He called Fallon a very able military strategist and said he will be missed.
Fallon was the subject of an article published last week in Esquire magazine that portrayed him as opposed to President Bush's Iran policy. It described Fallon as a lone voice against taking military action to stop the Iranian nuclear program.
"I think this is a cumulative kind of thing," Gates said. "It isn't the result of any one article or any one issue."
Fallon has had a 41-year Navy career. He took the Central Command post on March 16, 2007, succeeding Army Gen. John Abizaid, who retired. Fallon previously served as commander of U.S. Pacific Command.
Gates described as "ridiculous" any notion that Fallon's departure signals the United States is planning to go to war with Iran.
"As I say, the notion that this decision portends anything in terms of change in Iran policy is, to quote myself, 'ridiculous,' " he said.
Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.