President George W Bush has chosen a three star army general as his pointman for the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, ending a frustrated search for a "war czar," US officials said.
The move comes amid an intensifying struggle with Congress over the course of an increasingly unpopular war in Iraq, which is now in its fifth year.
"Lieutenant General Douglas Lute will be the assistant to the president and deputy national security advisor for Iraq and Afghanistan policy," a senior administration official said on Tuesday.
Lute, who currently is serving as director of the Joint Staff, was selected after several prominent retired generals turned down offers or overtures to become the White House's "war czar."
The choice surprised colleagues at the Pentagon who said they had heard of the nomination only shortly before news of it broke.
Some questioned how effective a three star general would be in managing a war effort from the White House amid four star military commanders and cabinet secretaries.
But others pointed out that Colin Powell was a three star general when he served as president Ronald Reagan's national security adviser in the 1980s.
Officials said Lute will be responsible for war "policy and implementation," a broad job description that officials said means that he is expected to ride herd on the bureaucracy on behalf of the US ambassador in Baghdad, Ryan Crocker, and General David Petraeus, the US commander.