INTERNATIONAL: Bush moves strategy spokesman

WASHINGTON: President Bush has dispatched Jim Wilkinson - one of his top spokesmen - to head comms at the Pentagon's US Central Command in Florida.

Wilkinson reports to General Tommy Franks, the experienced commander involved in the Afghanistan conflict, and said to be the leader in any future invasion of Iraq.

The primary purpose of his deployment, according to reports, is to better co-ordinate communications between Central Command, the White House and the State Department.

Wilkinson is considered to be a specialist in both international communications and also long-term strategy.

A member of the Bush team since early 2001, Wilkinson recently returned from Morocco, where he was posted in a bid to sharpen his Arabic language skills.

Since late last year, he had been intimately involved in the Coalition Information Centre, the rapid-response network forged between the US and UK preceding the invasion of Afghanistan.

Wilkinson had previously served as spokesman for the now-Secretary of Defence Donald Rumsfeld during the Presidential transition.

Prior to his work with Bush, Wilkinson spent eight years on the staff of retiring Representative Dick Armey, serving as his political director and press secretary.

Wilkinson is a civilian, though he spent five years as a lieutenant in the Navy Reserves.

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