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American Forces Press Service

Bush Nominates Mattis to Lead U.S. Joint Forces Command

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Sept. 12, 2007 – President Bush has nominated Marine Lt. Gen. James N. Mattis to receive his fourth star and to lead U.S. Joint Forces Command, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates announced yesterday.

Mattis, currently “dual-hatted” as commander of 1st Marine Expeditionary Force at Camp Pendleton, Calif., and U.S. Marine Corps Forces Central Command, will replace the retiring Air Force Gen. Lance L. Smith at JFCOM if he’s confirmed by the Senate. Earlier this summer, Smith announced his plans to retire in January with 38 years of service.

If confirmed, Mattis will take the helm at JFCOM and oversee its roles in military transformation, experimentation, joint training, interoperability, and force provision and management.

NATO's Defense Planning Committee also announced yesterday its plans to appoint Mattis as the next supreme allied commander for transformation. In that capacity, he will lead the transformation of NATO's military structures, forces, capabilities and doctrine. Mattis also will oversee NATO training efforts to improve the alliance’s and its partner nations’ interoperability and military effectiveness.

Mattis will bring a solid understanding of current operational challenges to his new post. In late July, he visited Marines with 1st Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 2, operating in Baghdadi, in Iraq’s Anbar province.

“You are all doing one hell of a job,” Mattis told the Marines. “I can’t thank you enough for putting up with all of this discomfort and continuing to complete the mission.”

He warned them about becoming complacent as they carry out their mission. “All you have to do is hang in there, and keep your eye on the ball,” he told the Marines. “We are being killed by complacency. I know it is tough out here, but keep your eye on the ball and you will make it out of here.”

Mattis has amassed a full resume of experience he will bring to JFCOM. Before taking the helm at 1st MEF, he commanded Marine Corps Combat Development Command and served as the deputy commandant for combat development.

He commanded 1st Marine Division during the initial attack and subsequent stability operations in Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom. Before that, he served as commander of 1st Marine Expeditionary Brigade and Task Force 58 in southern Afghanistan during Operation Enduring Freedom.

Mattis also commanded 7th Marines (Reinforced), and during operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm, led 1st Battalion, 7th Marines, one of Task Force Ripper's assault battalions.

Before that, he served as commander of Recruiting Station Portland, 1st Marine Brigade, rifle and weapons companies, and a 3rd Marine Division rifle and weapons platoon.

Mattis is a graduate of the Amphibious Warfare School, Marine Corps Command and Staff College, and the National War College.

(Lance Cpl. Brian L. Lewis from 2nd Marine Division contributed to this article.)

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