News Column

Obama Names New Commander to Oversee Afghanistan, Middle East

Dec 6, 2012

U.S. President Barack Obama will nominate Army General Lloyd Austin, who oversaw the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq, to lead the regional command that includes Afghanistan and the Middle East, Defence Secretary Leon Panetta said Thursday.

Austin, who now serves as vice chief of staff of the Army, would serve as commander of Central Command based in Tampa, Florida. The four-star general would replace outgoing Marine General James Mattis.

"During his final deployment to Iraq, General Austin led our military efforts at a particularly important time, overseeing the drawdown of US forces and equipment while simultaneously helping to ensure that hard-fought security gains were preserved and that Iraqis could secure and govern themselves," Panetta said in a statement.

Austin served three times in Iraq, first leading the 3rd Infantry Division at the beginning of the war, and also commanded troops in Afghanistan.

The US plans to withdraw combat troops from Afghanistan by the end of 2014, but is in talks about continuing cooperation for the next decade.

Source: Copyright 2012 dpa Deutsche Presse-Agentur GmbH

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