WSJ: Obama to nominate Votel to succeed Austin as CentCom commander
Citing unidentified Pentagon sources, the Wall Street Journal is reporting that President Barack Obama will nominate Army Gen. Joe Votel, currently the commander of U.S. Special Operations Command, to replace Gen. Lloyd J. Austin III as commander of U.S. Central Command.
Both Special Operations Command and CentCom, which oversees U.S. military operations in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, are headquartered at MacDill Air Force Base. Asked whether Austin, who assumed command of CentCom in March 2013, is scheduled to retire or rotate out of the position, a Pentagon spokesman said Wednesday he was aware of no official announcement about a pending change.
The Journal reported: "The move reflects Mr. Obama’s long-held inclination to counter extremist movements like the group calling itself Islamic State with small, highly capable forces like Delta and SEAL teams, rather than large ground units like those used in wars in Iraq in Afghanistan. ... It is possible that Gen. Votel would be replaced at Special Operations Command by Gen. Tony Thomas, who now leads the Joint Special Operations Command, a component of U.S. Special Operations Command, officials said.
"The move would mark an early departure for Gen. Votel, who assumed command of Special Operations Command in 2014, and wasn’t due to rotate out for at least another year. Before his current job, Gen. Votel headed Joint Special Operations Command, also known as JSOC, which executes some of the military’s most dangerous and high-risk missions, like the one that captured and killed Osama bin Laden in May 2011."