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Wednesday, March 19

Key war decisions to be made by array of top commanders

By Staff reports

WASHINGTON - President Bush, as commander-in-chief of the armed forces, decides when to go to war, but battlefield strategy is conceived and carried out by civilian and military officials at the Department of Defense.

Here is a look at some key leaders:

- Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. A former Navy pilot, Illinois congressman, NATO ambassador and White House chief of staff, Rumsfeld is an influential adviser to the president.

Rumsfeld was the youngest defense secretary in history when he first held the post under President Ford in the 1970s. He was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1977.

- Air Force Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Myers, a former space and missile-defense commander, is the primary military adviser to Bush and Rumsfeld. As a command pilot, Myers has more than 4,100 flying hours in a variety of military aircraft, including 600 combat hours in the F-4 fighter plane.

- Army Gen. Tommy Franks, commander of U.S. Central Command. Franks will direct the war with Iraq as the allied commander from a post at Camp As Sayliyah outside Doha, Qatar.

A former artillery and cavalry commander, Franks served in the Vietnam War and the Persian Gulf War.

- Air Force Gen. Charles Holland, commander of U.S. Special Operations Command. Holland is responsible for special operations forces that could play an important role in deterring possible Iraqi biological and chemical attacks, securing oil fields, identifying targets for air strikes and finding Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.

The former squadron commander has logged more than 5,000 flying hours and more than 100 combat missions.

- Gen. Eric Shinseki, Army Chief of Staff. The top Army official served two combat tours in Vietnam and was the commander of the NATO stabilization force in Bosnia-Herzegovina.

He has a master's degree in English literature from Duke University, and has taught in the U.S. Military Academy's English department.

- Adm. Vern Clark, Navy Chief of Staff. The former destroyer and battle group commander led the Joint Chiefs of Staff crisis-action team during the Persian Gulf War.

- Gen. John Jumper, Air Force Chief of Staff. The former fighter squadron commander has 4,000 flying hours, including 1,400 combat hours during two tours in southeast Asia. He was commander of the Air Combat Command at Langley Air Force Base.