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President Obama to Nominate Gen. Lloyd Austin Centcom Lead; Leon Panetta Comments

Gen. Lloyd Austin

President Barack Obama intends to nominate Army Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Lloyd Austin as the next commander of U.S. Central Command, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta announced in a release Thursday.

If confirmed, the 37-year veteran would succeed Marine Corps Gen. Jim Mattis, a 40-year veteran who has led Centcom since August 2010.

Prior to his swearing-in as vice chief in January, Austin served as commander of U.S. Forces in Iraq between September 2010 and December 2011, when combat operations in the country ended.

Austin has also led the 3rd Infantry Division during the opening months of the 2003 Iraq war, commanded the 10th Mountain Division in Afghanistan and led coalition forces in Iraq between February 2008 and April 2009.

“Austin led our military efforts at a particularly important time, overseeing the drawdown of U.S. forces and equipment while simultaneously helping to ensure that hard-fought security gains were preserved and that Iraqis could secure and govern themselves,” Panetta said.

Before leading Centcom, Mattis led the former Joint Forces Command between 2007 and 2010 and also served as NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander Transformation between 2007 and 2009.

I have relied on Jim every day I have served as secretary, and am profoundly grateful for his service to me and to the nation,” Panetta said.

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