Change of command at MacDill Air Force Base - WFLA News Channel 8

Change of command at MacDill Air Force Base

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Change of Command Change of Command
General Lloyd Austin III General Lloyd Austin III
Change of Command Change of Command
TAMPA, FL (WFLA) -

The U.S. Secretary of Defense, foreign ambassadors and a number of ranking general officers were at Macdill Air Force Base Friday morning as U.S. Central Command received a new leader.  General James Mattis is relinquishing command to General Lloyd Austin III.

General Mattis took command of CENTCOM in August of 2010, overseeing the U.S. military departure from Iraq and a force reduction in Afghanistan.  General Mattis was caught up briefly in the scandal that cost his predecessor his job.  Mattis's name was mentioned in emails written by Tampa socialite Jill Kelley.

Several published reports say General Mattis was fired from CENTCOM by President Obama without even a phone call.

General Mattis was known in the military as highly professional, but also blunt.  He was a highly decorated Marine who's nickname was "Mad Dog".

None of the controversy was mentioned at the ceremony Friday morning. Instead Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel focused on the long and highly decorated career of General Mattis.

Secretary Hagel said, "Jim Mattis has been front and center of every major combat operation this nation has conducted for more than two decades."

General Mattis led Marines as a battalion commander during Operation Desert Storm in 1991.

Secretary Hagel also said Mattis commanded the longest assault from the sea in modern history as he led a task force more than 400 miles into Afghanistan after the attacks of September 11th.

The new leader of U.S. Central Command, General Austin also commanded combat troops.  He served as commander of the 82nd Airborne, and the 10th Mountain Division. 

Secretary Hagel said, "With his calm demeanor, strategic vision, regional experience and knowledge and proven judgement,  I am confident General Austin is prepared to lead this command."

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