WASHINGTON -- Experience on the battlefield helped earn Gen. Joseph Martin the nomination to the Army's second highest military rank.

Martin was sworn in as the Army's 37th vice chief of staff in a Pentagon ceremony Friday, following a steady progression of the service's senior leadership into higher positions within the Department of Defense.

Gen. Mark A. Milley, the Army's chief of staff, said Martin's extensive time in combat during several deployments amply qualified him for the job.

"This is probably one of the top two, maybe three, general officers with combat experience," said Milley, who presided over the ceremony. "He has been in combat at every level of command. This guy's got five combat tours. He's got over 40 months in combat. It's an amazing combat record."

A 1986 graduate of West Point, Martin deployed to Iraq five times including stints as a company commander during Operation Desert Storm, as a battalion and brigade commander during Iraqi Freedom and he commanded the famed 1st Infantry Division at Fort Riley, Kansas.

Martin also served as the commander of the Combined Joint Forces Land Component Command during the pivotal Battle of Mosul, a major multi-national offensive that helped the Iraqi government retake control of the Iraqi city from ISIS forces.

Martin has said that he will continue to emphasize the Army's priorities of readiness, modernization and people, and to recruit the "best and brightest" into the force.

Martin, the Army's former director of Army Staff, succeeds Gen. James C. McConville, who will take over for Milley as the service's chief of staff. Milley and former Army Secretary Mark Esper both received nominations for higher leadership positions within the DOD. The Senate confirmed Milley on July 25 to succeed Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and President Donald Trump swore in Esper as secretary of defense last week.

A graduate of the U.S. Army War College who holds a master's degree in education, Martin earned such military awards and decorations as the Distinguished Service Medal, Bronze Star Medal with "V" device, the Defense Superior Service Medal, and the Army Commendation Medal with "V" device.

The Michigan native credited his former military mentors and his wife Leann in helping him reach this career milestone, which included a promotion to four-star general. Martin was joined on stage by several fellow members of the West Point class of 1986, including Esper.

"Today is an opportunity … to see what can happen when a family of families, a band of brothers, a lifetime of friends can do when they combine the incredible power of tough love, friendship and care while raising a leader and supporting his family over the course of a lifetime," Martin said.

Serving as the deputy to the Army's chief of staff, the vice chief is charged with the management of the Army staff and the many programs that fulfill the Title 10 responsibilities of the department. The vice chief often will take the duties of the chief of staff when the chief must engage in interservice responsibilities, such as those of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Milley, who said he has known Martin for nearly 10 years, said Martin's humility and experience were deciding factors in his nomination.

"He's a person of phenomenal character," Milley said. "This is a guy who has a backbone of titanium steel. He's never afraid to speak truth-to-power, but he also does it with class. He does it with dignity, he does it with respect. A beautiful thing about General Martin is that he's a team player and he's incredibly humble."