U.S. defense chief taps new commander overseeing Iraq, Afghanistan wars

09:24, July 09, 2010      

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File photo of Gen. James Mattis (Xinhua/AFP Photo)

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates on Thursday said he is recommending Gen. James Mattis to be named new commander of U.S. Central Command, replacing Gen. David Petraeus who was just appointed military commander of U.S. troops in Afghanistan.

If confirmed by the Senate, Mattis, a four-star Marine Corps general who currently commands the U.S. Joint Forces Command, will be overseeing the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Mattis joined the military in 1972, and commanded a Marines Battalion in the Gulf War in 1990 and 1991. He also commanded troops during the invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq in 2001 and 2003. He played a key role in the 2004 battle of Fallujah in Iraq.

Gates also laid out new rules that prohibits troops from any media engagement without clearance from Pentagon, in the wake of the fallout stemming from inappropriate remarks from Gen. Stanley McChrystal, Petraeus' predecessor.

Gates issued a memo last week to civilian and military leaders of the department, tightening the rule of engagement with media, asking officials to take media engagement "seriously," and to " stay within their levels of knowledge."

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