June 13, 2006

Marine Corps to get a new top general

By Will Dunham

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Lt. Gen. James Conway, a former
commander in Iraq who holds a senior post at the Pentagon, has
been nominated to head the U.S. Marine Corps, the Defense
Department said on Tuesday.

President George W. Bush's nomination of Conway comes at a
sensitive time for the Marines, with criminal investigations
underway that could lead to murder charges in the deaths of
Iraqi civilians in separate incidents in November and April.

Conway, director of operations for the military's Joint
Staff, would be promoted to the position of Marine Corps
commandant to replace Gen. Michael Hagee, who had been
scheduled to leave the post after serving since 2003.

Hagee recently returned from Iraq, where he gave Marines a
message to "use lethal force only when justified, proportional
and, most importantly, lawful." This comes as criminal
investigators probe a November incident in Haditha in which
Marines are suspected of killing 24 unarmed civilians.

The Senate must approve Conway's nomination.

"The confirmation could last a while and no determination
has been made as to when (Hagee) is going to leave," said Lt.
Col. Scott Fazekas, a U.S. Marine Corps spokesman at the

Fazekas said he did not know if Hagee planned to retire
from the military, saying the general "has not discussed his
future plans."

Conway commanded the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force in two
combat tours in Iraq.