Secretary of Defense Robert Gates presided over the ceremony at MacDill Air Force Base in which Acting Central Command Commander Lt. Gen. Martin E. Dempsey relinquished the post to Petraeus, the Pentagon said in a release.
Petraeus, 55, assumed command of U.S. forces across the Middle East and Southwest Asia, including Iraq and Afghanistan. He most recently led the Multinational Forces in Iraq, overseeing all coalition forces from February 2007 to September 2008.
Dempsey departs the Central Command after first serving as the deputy commander in August 2007, then as the acting commander since March 2008. Dempsey recently was confirmed for promotion to general and will become the commander of U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command.