The man now charged with overseeing all United States military operations in the Middle East, including in Iraq and Afghanistan, officially took over Wednesday as head of U.S. Central Command at a ceremony in Tampa.

Marine Corps Gen. James N. Mattis took over as head of CENTCOM at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, replacing acting Marine Corps Lt. Gen. John R. Allen. Both their profiles can be seen here.

Allen had been acting in an interim role following the departure of former CENTCOM commander, Gen. David Petraeus, who left to oversee military operations in Afghanistan following the resignation of Gen. Stanley McChrystal.

President Barack Obama called for McChrystal to resign after controversial negative comments he made about the administration to Rolling Stone magazine.

During the ceremony at MacDill, U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates praised Mattis’ experience as a military leader, according to a CENTCOM press release.

“Gen. Mattis is one of the most formidable warrior scholars of his generation,” said Gates. “His insights into the nature of warfare in the 21st century significantly influence my views about the shape and posture of our armed forces for a complex and unpredictable future.”

That unpredictable future comes as Mattis’ command begins amid increasing violence and attacks by the Taliban in Afghanistan, and continued plans by the Obama administration to draw down forces in Iraq.

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