Mattis Assumes Command of CENTCOM

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Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates yesterday presided over Marine Corps Gen. James N. Mattis’ assumption of command from Marine Corps Lt. Gen. John Allen, who had been acting commander since Army Gen. David H. Petraeus left the command to lead NATO operations in Afghanistan.

“General Mattis is one of the most formidable warrior-scholars of his generation,” Gates said. “His intellectual achievements include collaborating with General Petraeus on the historic Army-Marine Corps counter-insurgency manual and developing new operating concepts for our military at JFCOM. His insights into the nature of warfare in the 21st century significantly influenced my views about the shape and posture of our armed forces for a complex and unpredictable future.”

Marine Corps Gen. James N. Mattis was unanimously confirmed by the Senate last week as new commander of U.S. Central Command. During his confirmation hearing, he explained his top priorities include managing efforts in Afghanistan, pulling out troops in Iraq, enhancing regional partnerships to combat extremists and carrying out CENTCOM’s mission.

“I am eager to hear how we can best work together to protect the innocent while enhancing the deep bonds of mutual respect – bonds that have stood strong between us for many decades,” Mattis said yesterday.

Gates also gave credit to Petraeus and Army Gen. Raymond T. Odierno for managing the U.S. drawdown and continued training of the Iraqi security forces.

“Working with and through General Odierno, General Petraeus oversaw the successful drawdown of our forces in Iraq and the transition to full Iraqi security responsibility,” Gates stated. “Developments made possible by his inspired leadership during the surge three years ago that turned the tide.”

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