This post at China Redux leads to some very interesting information on the recent transfer of Pacific Fleet Commander Adm Fallon to the Middle East: an article from the Washington Post:

Fallon’s soothing words on Iran contrasts with conventional wisdom, which is that his selection as the first Navy admiral to lead CENTCOM signals increased preparation for war with Iran. This is particularly the case given reports in the BBC and The New Yorker regarding war preparations, and since the USS John C. Stennis aircraft carrier battle group left Pearl Harbor to join the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower battle group already in the region.

But Fallon’s history with regard to war plans vis a vis China tells a far more complex story: I have confirmed that Adm. Fallon indeed directed his planners in Hawaii not to prepare contingency “strategic” air strikes against mainland Chinese targets as part of U.S. options in a China-Taiwan contingency.

What is fascinating about this inside story about the U.S. combatant commander for Asia is not that he is some covert panda hugger now let loose to appease Iran. It is that those who have complained about Fallon’s approach to China proudly report that the Pacific Fleet commander and the Pacific Air Forces commander directed their targeters to do the work that Fallon had forbid anyway.

I guess that means on Iran that there’s good news in Fallon, and bad news. The bad news is that the senior military officer, the so-called combatant commander, can pursue a perfectly defensible policy of not wanting to risk a wider war with a country - China in this case — even in defense of Taiwan. He can logically direct his contingency planners to spend their time on something more productive, given his vision of what is likely and desirable, but they go ahead and do the planning anyway.

I know the argument that the military should at least give the president the options, that planning for war helps secure the peace, that having contingency plans signals seriousness to a country and thus increases deterrence and coercion.

China Redux goes on to argue that Fallon was moved to the Middle East to get him out of the way in Asia. Very interesting all around.