SANTIAGO, Chile | Mattis aide to be nominated to head US Southern Command

SANTIAGO, Chile — Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said Thursday that his senior military assistant, Navy Vice Adm. Craig Faller, will be nominated to serve as the next head of U.S. Southern Command.

Mattis made the statement to members of a Chilean government delegation before attending a signing ceremony for an agreement on cyber cooperation with Chilean Defense Minister Alberto Espina.

The nomination was publicly announced later Thursday in Washington.

Faller, a native of Fryburg, Pennsylvania, is a graduate of the U.S.

Naval Academy. He has served as an officer on various U.S. warships, including as commander of a carrier strike group that was deployed to the Middle East supporting operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Ashore, his past positions include commander of Navy Recruiting Command and director of operations, U.S. Central Command. He has been senior military assistant to the defense secretary since January 2017.

Mattis told reporters Faller has a deep understanding of diplomacy and high-level strategic decision-making. He has worked at Mattis’ side in the Pentagon for more than a year.

Faller would need to be confirmed by the Senate. He would succeed Navy Adm. Kurt Tidd.

By ROBERT BURNS , Associated Press