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Adm. William J. Fallon, the Navy's top-ranking officer in the Pacific and a master's graduate of Old Dominion University, was reported by national media Friday to be President's Bush's choice for the next commander of the U.S. Central Command overseeing operations in Iraq.

Fallon received a master's in international studies from Old Dominion in 1981 and was named a Distinguished Alumnus in 1999. He was in Norfolk as commander of the U.S. Atlantic Fleet before becoming commander of the Pacific Command in 2005.

News media reported that the Pentagon would name Fallon to succeed Army Gen. John Abizaid as commander of the Central Command. Fallon would be the first naval officer to lead the command, which has responsibility for all U.S. military operations in South and Central Asia, the Middle East and North Africa.

Fallon began his Navy career in 1967 after graduating through the Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) from Villanova University. His first assignment was flying RA-5C Vigilantes in a combat deployment to Vietnam. He flew with attack squadrons and carrier air wings for 24 years, logging more than 1,300 carrier-arrested landings and 4,800 flight hours in tactical jet aircraft.

A graduate of the Naval War College and the National War College, Fallon is a recipient of the Defense Distinguished Service Medal, Distinguished Service Medal, Defense Superior Service Medal, Legion of Merit and Bronze Star.

During Operation Desert Storm in 1991, he commanded Attack Squadron Sixty-five, Medium Attack Wing One and Carrier Air Wing Eight while deployed to the Arabian Gulf. Later, he commanded Battle Force Sixth Fleet during NATO's combat Operation Deliberate Force in Bosnia. He served as the 31st Vice Chief of Naval Operations in Washington, D.C., from October 2000 to August 2003 before taking command of the Atlantic Fleet.

In comments published in a spring 2004 Old Dominion Magazine story, Fallon referred to the value of international studies, which he pursued at ODU. "The idea that we can just hunker down inside the homeland here and not be affected by events in other parts of the world is just history," he said.

"Education, hopefully, will serve as a catalyst to get us interested in what goes on in other parts of the world and to realize how interconnected and interdependent the economies, nations and people of the world are. The more we learn about people and the more we understand what motivates them, the better chance we have to get ahead of some of the world's problems."

This article was posted on: January 5, 2007

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