WASHINGTON – The Pentagon Thursday nominated Marine Corps Gen. James Mattis to head up the U.S. Central Command, the final personnel change in a shake-up brought about by the dismissal of former Afghanistan commander Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal.
Last month, President Barack Obama named Petraeus as the Afghanistan commander after relieving McChrystal of command over derogatory remarks he and his staff made about top civilian leaders that appeared in a magazine article.
Mattis, currently the head of U.S. Joint Forces Command in Norfolk, Va., is a counterinsurgency expert who led the U.S. assault on the Iraqi city of Fallujah in 2004.
A popular general among Marines, Mattis is well known for blunt and sometimes inappropriate comments, making his nomination surprising to some given the reason for McChrystal’s firing.
In 2005, Mattis told a crowd in San Diego that “Actually, it’s a lot of fun to fight,” he said. “You know, it’s a hell of a hoot. … It’s fun to shoot some people. I’ll be right up front with you. I like brawling.”
The audience laughed, but the Pentagon didn’t. His superiors reprimanded him.