Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates announced yesterday his recommendation for Marine Corps Gen. James N. Mattis as next commander of U.S. Central Command.
Mattis is currently commander of U.S. Joint Forces Command and, if confirmed, will succeed Army Gen. David H. Patraeus, who is now commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan.
He would have responsibility for operations from Pakistan to Egypt and Oman to Kazakhstan. He would also be combatant commander for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“General Mattis has proven to be one of the military’s most innovative and iconoclastic thinkers,” Gates said during a news conference yesterday. “His insights into the nature of warfare in the 21st century have influenced my own views about how the armed forces must be shaped and postured for the future.”
Mattis has a long list of experiences in similar posts. His resume includes former commander of the Marine forces in Afghanistan in 2001 and commander of the 1st Marine Division in Iraq in 2003. He was also commander of the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force at Camp Pendleton, Calif.
Mattis would take over Petraeus’ former post before he succeeded Gen. Stanley McChrystal. Marine Corps Lt. Gen. John R. Allen, who was Petraeus’ deputy commander at CENTCOM, has been serving as acting commander since the reorganization.
During the press conference, Gates added, “I consider it essential to have a confirmed, full-time commander in place at CENTCOM as quickly as possible as we confront the challenges posed by the ongoing operations in Afghanistan, our troop withdrawal in Iraq and Iran’s nuclear program, as well as the threat represented by militant and terrorist groups throughout the region.”