Senate Confirms Mattis for Top Centcom Post
By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Aug. 6, 2010 The Senate unanimously confirmed Marine Corps Gen. James N. Mattis as commander of U.S. Central Command.
The Senate confirmed Marine Corps Gen. James N. Mattis as the next commander of U.S. Central Command. DoD photo
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Mattis, who previously served as NATO supreme allied commander for transformation and commander of U.S. Joint Forces Command in Norfolk, Va., received the Senate nod late yesterday.
Before adjourning for a five-week recess, the Senate also confirmed retired Air Force Lt. Gen. James R. Clapper as director of national intelligence.
In his new post, Mattis will oversee all U.S. military operations in the Middle East and Central Asia, including the war in Afghanistan and the drawdown of U.S. forces in Iraq. Mattis will replace Army Gen. David H. Petraeus, who left Centcom to replace Army Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal as commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan. The Senate confirmed Petraeus to that position June 30.
Mattis emphasized during his July 27 Senate confirmation hearing the need for continued military, civilian and regional cooperation to successfully drive out extremism.
“The wars we are fighting require highly integrated military efforts from the highest to the lowest levels,” he said. “If confirmed, I will make every effort to work closely with civilian and military leaders charged with leading our operations, and to ensure they are fully resourced in a coherent and comprehensive manner.”
Combating the threat requires sustained pressure from coalition partners, he told the committee, promising to work to galvanize international support.
Acknowledging that “the stakes are high,” Mattis said he believes the military component of the U.S. strategy in Afghanistan is sound.
“I believe that by steadfastly executing our strategy, we will win in Afghanistan,” he said. “Nothing about the mission will be easy. We recognize that achieving our goals in Afghanistan requires also the enduring commitment of the international community.”
During an early July news conference, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates expressed great confidence in Mattis’ capabilities for the top Centcom post.
“General Mattis has proven to be one of the military's most innovative and iconoclastic thinkers,” he said. “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 served as the commander of the first Marine forces in Afghanistan in 2001. He also commanded the 1st Marine Division during the initial push into Iraq in 2003, then served as commander of the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force at Camp Pendleton, Calif.