US Iraq war general tapped to head CENTCOM
WASHINGTON (PAN): The United States President Barack Obama has picked a general, who oversaw the withdrawal of American troops from Iraq, for the crucial post as the commander of Central Command (CENTCOM), before the 2014 troop pullout from Afghanistan.
US Defense Secretary, Leon Panetta, on Thursday announced that Obama intends to nominate General Lloyd Austin as next CENTCOM Commander.
Austin, who currently serves as vice chief of staff of the army, would replace General James Mattis, after his nomination is confirmed by the US Senate.
Austin is one of the military's most seasoned combat leaders - with extensive experience in the CENTCOM area of responsibility, Panetta said.
Gen Austin led the 3rd Infantry Division from the front in the opening months of the Iraq war and earned a Silver Star for valor. He later commanded the 10th Mountain Division in Afghanistan, led Multi-National Corps-Iraq from February 2008 until April 2009, and then commanded U.S. Forces-Iraq from September 2010 through the completion of the mission in December 2011,” Panetta said.
"During his final deployment to Iraq, Gen Austin led our military efforts at a particularly important time, overseeing the drawdown of US forces and equipment while simultaneously helping to ensure that hard-fought security gains were preserved and that Iraqis could secure and govern themselves,” he said.
Austin would bring an important combination of strategic thinking, regional knowledge and proven judgment to one of the most critical posts in the department, added the defense secretary.
Appreciating the leadership shown by Gen Mattis, Panetta said he will go down as one of the most celebrated battlefield leaders and strategic military thinkers of the time.
“He has been an exemplary leader of US Central Command at a critical time for America's vital interests in the Middle East and South Asia. He has helped build regional security cooperation, advanced the cause of security and stability, and ensured that our forces are postured and prepared for any contingency in the region,” Panetta said.
"Americans are safer because one of our nation's great warriors, Jim Mattis, is standing watch over this volatile and important part of the world. I am grateful that we have found another warrior and patriot, Lloyd Austin, to carry his legacy forward and to command thousands of troops who are willing to fight and to die to defend our nation," he said.
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