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Gen. Mattis Tapped to Lead Central Command

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U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates says he's recommending Marine Corps General James Mattis to head U.S. Central Command.

If confirmed by the Senate, Mattis would take General David Petraeus' former post, overseeing U.S. operations abroad in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, and Iran and other Middle East countries, according to the Associated Press. Petraeus was confirmed as the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan last month, after General Stanley McChrystal resigned over disparaging remarks published in Rolling Stone.

During his announcement, Gates praised Mattis as "one of the military's most innovative and iconoclastic thinkers." Mattis led U.S. troops during the battle of Fallujah in Iraq in 2003; but, as the AP reports, he is also just as well-known for his controversial remarks: He once told an audience in San Diego, California that "it's fun to shoot some people."

On Thursday afternoon, Gates also commented on the letter he sent to the Department of Defense regarding talking to the media. "In short, last week's memo was not about how the media does its job, but about how this department's leadership does ours," he said, during the press conference at the Pentagon. Even prior to the Rolling Stone article, he said, "I have grown increasingly concerned that we have become too lax, disorganized, and, in some cases, flat out sloppy in the way we engage with the press."