CENTCOM commander Admiral William J. Fallon relinquishes command at a ceremony at MacDill Air Force Base, March 28.
MACDILL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. (March 28, 2008) – Admiral William J. Fallon relinquished command of United States Central Command Friday.
Fallon, a 41-year Navy veteran, assumed duties as the commander on March 16, 2007, and was the first Navy officer to head USCENTCOM. He previously served as commander of U.S. Pacific Command.
Fallon succeeded Army Gen. John Abizaid. Former USCENTCOM deputy commander Lt. Gen. Martin Dempsey assumed the position of acting commander.
Secretary of Defense Robert Gates presided over the ceremony and Adm. Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, also participated.
Gates praised Fallon’s leadership during his tenure as commander.
“(He) tackled this role with unparalleled energy, insights, ideas and diplomatic skills,” Gates said.
Gates also lauded Dempsey, who he said brings a wealth of experience in the USCENTCOM AOR to the job. He spent 14 months in Iraq as commander of the 1st Armored Division in 2003-2004. In August 2005, he returned to Iraq to command the Multi-National Security Transition Command where he oversaw the training and equipping of the new Iraqi Army.
"Though this is an unexpected assignment for Lieutenant General Dempsey,” Gates said. “I am confident that he is prepared to lead CENTCOM for as long as necessary.”
Mullen, who is a longtime peer of Fallon and succeeded him several times during their careers to include as Vice Chief of Naval Operations, said the retiring admiral was a “warfighter’s warfighter" and would be a tough act to follow.
Fallon expressed admiration for those servicemembers serving on the front lines.
“It’s been my honor to travel throughout the AOR (area of responsibility), to see people at work, to see them in combat,” he said. “They’re getting the job done in an amazing fashion.”
Fallon also left those in attendance with a few words of advice.
“My suggestion to people is, when you get a job to do, try to make a difference,” he said. “Leave the place a little better than you found it. If you work at that, you’ll do well.”