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Gates appoints Marine Gen. Mattis as head of CENTCOM

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates just announced that he has recommended Marine Gen. James Mattis to be the next commander of Central Command.

This is not a huge surprise, since Mattis is one of the few four-star generals on active duty today who has been a four-star general longer than Gen. Petraeus.

Mattis may have been on his way to retirement after he was recently passed over to be Commandant of the Marine Corps -- U.S. Defense officials said at the time that he was better suited to lead up a combatant command. Now he has the chance.