A Marine Corps general known as "the warrior monk" and "Mad Dog " Mattis took the helm Friday of Joint Forces Command and NATO's Allied Command Transformation.
Gen. James N. Mattis relieved Air Force Gen. Lance Smith aboard the aircraft carrier George Washington, docked at Norfolk Naval Station. More than 1,000 people - many of them in military uniforms representing NATO's 26 member nations - attended the ceremony.
Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, explained Mattis' "monk" nickname with an anecdote about how the general - a bachelor - spent Christmas on duty at Quantico one year so his deputy could spend time with loved ones.
Mullen said Mattis is well-suited for his two new jobs: supplying troops to war while preparing the U.S. military and NATO forces for future challenges.
"I pledge to give all I've got to build the strongest coalitions, the most agile forces and the most ethical defenders of our nations," Mattis said.
Smith, a fighter pilot who flew combat missions over Vietnam, will retire in January after 38 years in uniform.
Staff writer Louis Hansen contributed to this report.
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