Commander, U.S. Army Forces Command, nominated to head U.S. Africa CommandOne of the Army’s rising stars, Rodriguez heads the Army’s largest command, responsible for manning, equipping and training 550,000 active-duty soldiers and 560,000 members of the Army National Guard and Reserve. But he won’t be there long: Nominated to head U.S. Africa Command, he will soon be responsible for military relations with 54 countries in an unstable region of the world where crime, corruption and terrorism are rising threats, and where China is competing with the United States to curry favor. In announcing the nomination, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta praised Rodriguez for his role in the Afghanistan surge and post-surge strategy, calling him “a key architect of the successful campaign plan that we are now implementing.” A 1976 West Point graduate, Rodriguez is credited with standing up the International Security Assistance Force Joint Command, or IJC, the three-star-level command in charge of day-to-day operations in Afghanistan.
In the course of a few November days, three people plummeted from the top ranks of the powerful, falling down, and in one case off, the list.
Top editors had just finalized the top 10 for this project when retired Army Gen. David Petraeus abruptly resigned from his job as director of the CIA after admitting to an extramarital affair. The esteemed Petraeus, seen by many as destined for higher office and perhaps even the presidency, had been a fixture in the top 10 from the start.