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ARLINGTON, Va. — Defense Secretary Robert Gates has recommended that Navy Adm. Timothy Keating become the new commander of U.S. Pacific Command.

Keating is currently head of U.S. Northern Command, which was established after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks to protect the homeland.

If formally nominated by President Bush and approved by the Senate, Keating would replace Navy Adm. William Fallon, who has been nominated to become the new head of U.S. Central Command.

“Adm. Keating commanded a carrier group based in Japan and later the Navy’s 5th Fleet during Operation Iraqi Freedom,” Gates told reporters on Friday. “After serving as director of the Joint Staff, Admiral Keating became commander of Northern Command, where he oversaw the active-duty military’s response to Hurricane Katrina.”

Gates also announced he has recommended that Air Force Lt. Gen. Victor “Gene” Renuart, former vice commander of Pacific Air Forces, be promoted to full general and nominated to replace Keating at Northern Command.

“Each of these fine officers has established a record of accomplishment in a variety of complex and challenging assignments,” Gates said. “Each has shown the requisite combination of military, diplomatic and intellectual skills to be successful in these two positions.”

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