U.S. Army Gen. Lloyd Austin's nomination to succeed Marine Gen. James Mattis at CENTCOM was announced Dec. 6 by Defense Secretary Leon Panetta. (U.S. Army)
The game of musical chairs among the top U.S. military generals is continuing as President Barack Obama plans to nominate Army Gen. Lloyd Austin to lead U.S. Central Command.
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said in a statement that Austin, the current Army vice chief of staff, “is one of the military’s most seasoned combat leaders.” Austin served as the top U.S. general in Iraq from September 2010 through the end of military operations in December 2011.
If confirmed, Austin will replace Marine Corps Gen. James Mattis. Panetta did not discuss Mattis’ future plans.
“I will have much more to say about Jim Mattis, who I believe will go down as one of the most celebrated battlefield leaders and strategic military thinkers of our time,” Panetta said. “He 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.”
With Gen. John Allen’s nomination to become the Supreme Allied Commander of NATO on hold due to an investigation surrounding his correspondence with a volunteer at CENTCOM, it is possible Mattis could assume that role if Allen’s nomination is withdrawn.
CENTCOM is considered one of America’s most prestigious command posts as its leader oversees all U.S. military activities in the Middle East and Afghanistan. Gens. Norman Schwarzkopf, David Petraeus and Anthony Zinni have all served as CENTCOM commanders.