Gen. James N. Mattis, the new commander of U.S. Central Command, speaks to the audience at his assumption of command ceremony Aug. 11.
MACDILL AFB, Fla. (Aug. 11, 2010) — Secretary of Defense, Robert M. Gates, welcomed Marine Corps Gen. James N. Mattis as the incoming commander of U.S. Central Command at an Assumption of Command ceremony here today.
Mattis relieved acting commander, Marine Corps Lt. Gen. John R. Allen, who will remain at CENTCOM as the deputy commander.
“Gen. Mattis is one of the most formidable warrior scholars of his generation,” said Gates. “His insights into the nature of warfare in the 21st century significantly influence my views about the shape and posture of our armed forces for a complex and unpredictable future.”
The standing- room-only audience of almost 300 attendees listened intently as Mattis set forth his vision of the future for CENTCOM and its coalition partners.
“We are standing beside you and we will work with you to promote security and stability,” Mattis said. “I am eager to hear how we can best work together to protect the innocent while enhancing the deep bonds of mutual respect – bonds that have stood strong between us for many decades.”
Mattis most recently commanded U.S. Joint Forces Command in Norfolk, Va., from 2007 until arriving at Tampa. During that time, he also concurrently served as NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander for Transformation (SACT).
Mattis has established an extensive history of leading troops in combat. During Operation Enduring Freedom, he commanded the 1st Marine Expeditionary Brigade and Task Force 58 in Southern Afghanistan. During Operation Iraqi Freedom, he also commanded the 1st Marine Division.
Prior to serving at Joint Forces Command, he led the Marine Corps Combat Development Command, I Marine Expeditionary Force and the U.S. Marine Forces Central Command.
As the geographic combatant commander overseeing U.S. military operations in the Middle East and Central Asia, Mattis conveyed his deep awareness of the challenges going forward and his sincere appreciation for the men and women who continue to make sacrifices in support of the CENTCOM mission.
“As you know so well, much is riding on your young shoulders, service members and family members alike,” Mattis said. “I will hold you in my thoughts and prayers as we team together, co-equals in our commitment to protecting this experiment we call America and to supporting stability in the region we’re assigned.”