Army vice chief of staff to be nominated as CENTCOM commander

President Barack Obama plans to nominate GEN Lloyd Austin as the next commander of U.S. Central Command, with overall responsibility for the Afghanistan war, according to a statement from Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta.

Austin is presently vice chief of staff of the Army, with extensive experience in the CENTCOM area of responsibility.  Austin led the 3rd Infantry Division from the front in the opening months of the Iraq war, earning 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. 


“During his final deployment to Iraq, GEN Austin led our military efforts at a particularly important time, overseeing the drawdown of U.S. forces and equipment while simultaneously helping to ensure that hard-fought security gains were preserved and that Iraqis could secure and govern themselves,” said Panetta in the statement. “Lloyd would bring an important combination of strategic thinking, regional knowledge and proven judgment to one of the most critical posts in the department.”

Austin will succeed Marine Corps Gen. James Mattis as CENTCOM commander. 

“(Mattis) has been an exemplary leader of U.S. Central Command at a critical time for America's vital interests in the Middle East and South Asia,” said Panetta. “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.”

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