Gates Recommends Mattis for Central Command Job
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, July 8, 2010 Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates today recommended Marine Corps Gen. James N. Mattis to be the next commander of U.S. Central Command.Video
Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates has recommended to President Barack Obama that he nominate Marine Corps Gen. James N. Mattis, commander of U.S. Joint Forces Command, to succeed Army Gen. David H. Petraeus as commander of U.S. Central Command. DoD photo
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
If confirmed by the Senate, Mattis will succeed Army Gen. David H. Petraeus, who now commands U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan.
Mattis currently is commander of U.S. Joint Forces Command.
“General Mattis has proven to be one of the military's most innovative and iconoclastic thinkers,” Gates said during a Pentagon news conference today. “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.”
If confirmed, the general would have responsibility for operations from Pakistan to Egypt and Oman to Kazakhstan. He would be the combatant commander for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“The post General Mattis is taking is a critical one at a critical time. The United States has vital, long-standing interests and commitments in Central Asia and the gulf region going back decades -- interests and commitments that transcend multiple presidencies of both political parties.
“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,” Gates added.
Mattis served as the commander of the Marine forces that were first in Afghanistan in 2001. He also served as the commander of the 1st Marine Division during the initial push into Iraq in 2003. He left that job to serve as the commander of the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force at Camp Pendleton, Calif.
He has served as the four-star commander of U.S. Joint Forces Command since 2007.
The general has received the Defense Distinguished Service Medal twice, the Legion of Merit and the Bronze Star with a “V” for valor. He is from Pullman, Wash., and has been in the Marine Corps since 1972. He served as a battalion commander in Task Force Ripper during Operation Desert Storm.
Marine Corps Lt. Gen. John R. Allen, who was Petraeus’ deputy commander at Centcom, has served as acting commander since June 30.