WASHINGTON — Gen. Lloyd Austin will be nominated to lead U.S. Central Command, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta announced Thursday.
Austin, the vice chief of staff of the Army, is “one of the military’s most seasoned combat leaders — with extensive experience in the CENTCOM area of responsibility,” Panetta said.
As the assistant commander of the 3rd Infantry Division, Austin helped lead the division from Kuwait to Baghdad. He was awarded the Silver Star for that effort. Later, he served as the commander of the 10th Mountain Division in Afghanistan, led Multi-National Corps-Iraq and commanded U.S. Forces-Iraq.
Austin will bring “an important combination of strategic thinking, regional knowledge and proven judgment” to his new assignment, Panetta said.
If confirmed by the Senate, Austin will replace Marine Gen. James Mattis.
“Americans are safer because one of our nation’s great warriors, Jim Mattis, is standing watch over this volatile and important part of the world,” Panetta said.