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US general who led Iraq exit tapped for CENTCOM

08 December, 2012

WASHINGTON: The US general who managed the withdrawal of American troops from Iraq has been nominated to lead US Central Command, which oversees forces in the Middle East and in Afghanistan, Pentagon chief Leon Panetta said on Thursday.

If confirmed by the US Senate, General Lloyd Austin, 59, would replace General James Mattis. The next chief of Central Command will be responsible for the planned drawdown of US combat forces in Afghanistan through 2014 as well as preparing for potential crises and conflict in Iran, Syria, Yemen and Pakistan.

Austin spent much of the past 10 years in Iraq, leading the 3rd Infantry Division in the early months of the war, and also led the 10th Mountain Division in Afghanistan. He took over as commander of US forces in Iraq from September 2010 until the US military's departure in December 2011.

"Lloyd would bring an important combination of strategic thinking, regional knowledge and proven judgment to one of the most critical posts in the department," Panetta said in a statement.

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