NPR logo Pentagon Appoints Gen. Mattis To Succeed Gen. Petraeus At US CENTCOM

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Pentagon Appoints Gen. Mattis To Succeed Gen. Petraeus At US CENTCOM

Gen. James Mattis. Kris Connor/Getty Images North America hide caption

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Kris Connor/Getty Images North America

Gen. James N. Mattis, currently head of the U.S. Joint Forces Command (USJFCOM), will oversee U.S. Central Command (US CENTCOM), pending approval of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates announced at a Pentagon briefing moments ago.

Slate's John Dickerson gives us some background on Mattis:

He commanded Marines as a brigadier general in Afghanistan in 2001. In 2003, he was the Marine ground commander in Iraq, leading the 20,000 troops of the 1st Marine Division for 500 miles over 17 days, the longest sustained march in Marine Corps history. He then returned to fight in Al-Anbar province in 2003 during the toughest period of combat. He was considered the front-runner to be named commandant of the Marine Corps but was passed over for that post several weeks ago.

The Associated Press calls him "a blunt-talking seasoned war veteran," noting "he is also known for a 2005 speech in San Diego in which he said it was 'fun to shoot some people.'"

He was criticized for making the remark, but he was never reprimanded, the wire service reports.