|Franks: Over and out|
Revealing this, US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld on Thursday said General Franks would first step down as US central command chief in the coming weeks. His retirement would follow.
Rumsfeld did not indicate who would replace Franks as commander of the US forces in the region that includes the Horn of Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia.
Franks is said to have expressed his desire to step down when sounded out for the job of the US army chief of staff. The present chief, General Eric Shinseki, leaves his post next month.
According to media reports, Franks’ wife Cathy said her husband was finally fulfilling a promise to get out of the military that he had made at the start of their lives together more than 30 years ago.
"I'm glad to know that he's a man of his word," she said. Franks, who is from US President George W Bush’s childhood town of Midland, Texas is considered witty and self-effacing.
"Tommy Franks is no Norman Schwarzkopf," Franks once told reporters with a sheepish grin when asked to compare himself to the swashbuckling general who commanded US forces in the 1991 Gulf War.
Rumsfeld has credited Franks with devising and executing a "brilliant" war plan in Iraq where he defied expectations by quickly thrusting an invasion force toward Baghdad. The alternative was to engage in a prolonged air war to pave the way for a land invasion.
But Franks came under criticism for failing to prevent looting and lawlessness in Baghdad and elsewhere in Iraq after toppling President Saddam Hussein from power.
Franks was also criticized for letting al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden slip from a trap in Afghanistan last year when the US forces heavily bombed the mountainous Tora Bora region of eastern Afghanistan.