Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Mattis takes over as CentCom chief

Gen. James N. Mattis, second from right, receives the Central Command flag from Defense Secretary Robert Gates during a ceremony Wednesday at MacDill Air Force Base along with acting CentCom commander Lt. Gen. John R. Allen and Command Sgt. Maj. Marvin Hill, right.


Gen. James N. Mattis, second from right, receives the Central Command flag from Defense Secretary Robert Gates during a ceremony Wednesday at MacDill Air Force Base along with acting CentCom commander Lt. Gen. John R. Allen and Command Sgt. Maj. Marvin Hill, right.

TAMPA — Completing a change of command touched off by a controversy, the U.S. Central Command's newest leader took control Wednesday and pledged continuity in prosecuting the nation's wars.

In a ceremony at MacDill Air Force Base in South Tampa, Marine Corps Gen. James N. Mattis assumed command of military operations for 20 Middle Eastern countries, including Afghanistan and Iraq.

Addressing the 200,000 military personnel in CentCom's area of responsibility, he pledged to maintain military strategies.

"I have unshakable confidence in you and I pledge to you my unshakable devotion," Mattis said.

U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates presided over the ceremonial passing of a flag from Acting Commander Lt. Gen. John R. Allen to Mattis.

The secretary said Mattis is prepared for the role because he has fought in the region — leading a brigade in southern Afghanistan and being part of the initial attack and stability operations in Iraq.

"He is one of the most formidable warrior-scholars of his generation," Gates said.

The former CentCom commander, Gen. David Petraeus, left to take over directing combat in Afghanistan after the Obama administration forced Gen. Stanley McChrystal to resign over fallout from a blunt article in Rolling Stone magazine.

Allen had been second-in-command under Petraeus, and was asked to fill the post until a new commander could be confirmed.

"The challenge will be enormous but we are optimistic and dedicated to the outcome," Allen said of operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The next three years, Allen said, will be critical in bringing stability to the region.

CentCom is expected to complete Operation New Dawn in Iraq, using its relationship with a better-prepared Iraq to eventually withdraw U.S. troops.

"CentCom stands on the verge of momentous developments for the region and the United States," Allen said.

Gates pointed out during the ceremony that CentCom has changed commanders several times since he started in 2006.

"It's dismaying … this is the third time I've done this," Gates said. "Don't know if it says more about CentCom or me."

Gates praised the work of the three leaders appointed during his tenure, which include a sailor, a soldier and now a Marine.

Mattis was confirmed Aug. 5 by the U.S. Senate and resigned his job as commander of the U.S. Joint Forces Command, the Norfolk, Va.-based operations center for training and creating teams of military from all four branches.

That agency is among those recently recommended for cutbacks by Gates.

Mattis also served as NATO's supreme allied commander transformation. He is a graduate of Central Washington State University, the Amphibious Warfare School, Marine Corps Command and Staff College and the National War College.

He thanked Gates for his support and said he wants to enhance the relationships CentCom has already established in the region.

"I am eager to hear how we can best work together to protect the innocent, while enhancing the deep bonds of mutual respect," he said.

Mattis takes over as CentCom chief 08/11/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, August 11, 2010 11:33pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Florida: White man who killed black person to be executed

    State Roundup

    GAINESVILLE — For the first time in state history, Florida is expecting to execute a white man for killing a black person — and it plans to do so with help of a drug that has never been used previously in any U.S. execution.

    This undated photo provided by the Florida Department of Corrections shows Mark Asay. If his final appeals are denied, Asay is to die by lethal injection after 6 p.m. Thursday. Asay was convicted by a jury of two racially motivated, premeditated murders in Jacksonville in 1987.  [Florida Department of Corrections via AP]
  2. Ex-TPD sergeant LaJoyce Houston takes plea deal in stolen tax refund case


    TAMPA — LaJoyce Houston, a former Tampa police sergeant accused with her husband in a federal tax refund fraud scheme, has agreed to plead guilty to receiving stolen government property, court records state.

    Former Tampa police officers Eric and LaJoyce Houston walk into the Sam Gibbons U.S. District Courthouse on Oct. 28, 2015, to face charges relating to stolen identity tax refund fraud. [SCOTT KEELER    |      TIMES
  3. Deputies: Vet who practices in Gulfport, Port Richey abused animals at Lakeland home


    LAKELAND – A veterinarian who practices part-time in Gulfport and Port Richey was arrested Tuesday along with her husband after Polk County Sheriff's Office deputies found more than 30 severely …

    Veterinarian Gail Nichols, 66, (above) who practices in Gulfport and Port Richey, was arrested Tuesday along with her husband Paul Smith, 74, after Polk County deputies found more than 30 severely abused animals at their Lakeland home. The two are each facing several counts of felony animal cruelty, among other charges, after at least 38 horses, birds and dogs were found at 3211 West Bella Vista Street in dire states and in filthy, unlivable conditions. [Polk County Sheriff's Office]
  4. Bucs Cannon Fodder podcast: Several key players still sidelined


    Greg Auman gives an injury update, with several key players still sidelined from practice three days before the Bucs play the Cleveland Browns in Tampa, and a full recap of your favorite scenes from Tuesday …

    Bucs wide receiver Mike Evans was held out of practice Wednesday at One Buc Place. [CHARLIE KAIJO | Times]
  5. Steve Kornell says small fix can help St. Pete's sewage problems


    ST. PETERSBURG— Steve Kornell knows his idea won't put much of a dent in the $326 million bill the city must pay over the next five years to fix its inadequate and outdated sewer system.

    St. Petersburg City Council member Steve Kornell (right) during a 2012 council meeting at City Hall. [SCOTT KEELER  |  Times]