Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Thursday he is recommending that President Obama nominate Marine Corps Gen. James Mattis to be the next commander of US Central Command. Mattis—oftentimes outspoken and a critic of the Air Force-championed concept of effects-based operations—has led US Joint Forces Command since November 2007. If nominated and then confirmed by the Senate, Mattis would replace Army Gen. David Petraeus, who left CENTCOM in late June to lead US and NATO forces in Afghanistan after a leadership shake-up. Gates made the announcement during a Pentagon briefing. He said Mattis at the helm of CENTCOM would mean that there would be two Marines occupying the top leadership spots in the combatant command. The other is Lt. Gen. John Allen, CENTCOM’s deputy commander since July 2008 and its acting commander since June 30. Gates said he feels comfortable with that arrangement “for a period of time.” (Gates transcript)
U.S. Air Force F-35s and F-22s regularly deploy deep into the Pacific region from Alaska, Utah, and Hawaii. In the future, though, the head of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command would like to see the Air Force permanently station fifth-generation aircraft west of the international date line—closer to China.