Make us your home page
Instagram

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.

WILLIE J. ALLEN JR. | Times

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

Loading...
  1. Clearwater eyes hiring new downtown director within two months

    CLEARWATER — Now that the city director tasked with revitalizing downtown has resigned after his arrest on a battery charge during Oktoberfest, City Manager Bill Horne said the goal is to not leave the position vacant long.

    Clearwater Assistant City Manager  Micah Maxwell will oversee downtown until the city hires a replacement for Seth Taylor.
  2. Tampa Bay's Top 100 Workplaces deadline extended to Nov. 17

    Business

    Think you work at one of the best places in Tampa Bay? You've got a little more time to make a pitch.

    Penny Hoarder and Gregory, Sharer & Stuart were among those at an event in Tampa last May honoring winners of the Tampa Bay Times Top Workplaces awards. Nominations are now open for this year.  
[OCTAVIO JONES   |   Times]
  3. Little separates McElwain and Muschamp eras of futility at Florida

    College

     Florida Gators head coach Jim McElwain watches the second quarter of the Florida Gators game against Texas A&M, at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, in Gainesville.
  4. Tampa-based Checkers testing delivery, aims for record expansion

    Retail

    TAMPA — Tampa-based Checkers Drive-In Restaurants continues to fly under the radar compared to dominant burger chains like McDonald's and Burger King.

    Checkers Franchisee Shaji Joseph, of Tampa, hoses down the front walkway of his store at 6401 Park Boulevard, Pinellas Park. The business has a new look including signage and exterior tile. One drive through has been eliminated for an outdoor dining area, right. Joseph owns nine Checkers and is planning to open his tenth in Tampa.
[SCOTT KEELER   |   Times ]
  5. Advice for presidents from military families they've tried to console

    War

    One family returned the letter because it was full of errors. Another was left cold when the letter they got screamed "robo-pen." Still another was puzzled to find 17 copies of their letter in the mailbox.

    Army Chief Warrant Officer 3 Aaron Cowan, 37, was killed in a helicopter training accident in South Korea on Feb. 26, 2005. [Courtesy of Kari Cowan]