Austin Eyed to lead CENTCOM

President Obama plans to nominate Army Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Lloyd Austin to lead US Central Command, announced Defense Secretary Leon Panetta in a statement on Thursday. Once the nomination comes and the Senate approves it, Austin would take over from Marine Corps Gen. James Mattis who has overseen US combat forces in Southwest Asia, which includes Afghanistan, since August 2010. Austin previously commanded US Forces-Iraq from September 2010 until the final pullout of US combat forces from there in December 2011. “Austin led our military efforts at a particularly important time, overseeing the drawdown,” said Panetta in his Dec. 6 statement. “Lloyd would bring an important combination of strategic thinking, regional knowledge, and proven judgment to one of the most critical posts in the department,” he added.