Wednesday, January 17, 2018
Military News

SOCom leader McRaven, credited with planning Osama bin Laden raid, retiring

TAMPA — Adm. William H. McRaven, widely credited with planning and launching the mission that killed Osama bin Laden in 2011 shortly before ascending to oversee all special operation forces from Tampa, will retire from the military, a spokesman for the U.S. Special Operations Command said Monday.

For nearly three years, McRaven has led SOCom, the elite organization that oversees special operations around the world from its headquarters at MacDill Air Force Base. But his retirement has been expected.

Last week, President Barack Obama nominated Army Lt. Gen. Joseph Votel to succeed him in the role and to be promoted to four-star general.

McRaven, who has commanded SOCom since August 2011, is one of the country's best-known military officers, in part because he is credited with organizing Operation Neptune Spear.

The Navy SEAL raid in Pakistan culminated in bin Laden's death on May 2, 2011.

Not long after that mission, McRaven was elevated to chief of SOCom, and he set about revamping the organization to suit a world in which America's wars in the Middle East were winding down.

His goal was to expand the skills of Special Operations forces to include noncombat missions, such as training foreign militaries to quash terrorism and drug trafficking.

If confirmed by the U.S. Senate, Votel will become the 10th commander of SOCom — and mark the second time he has followed McRaven to a new position.

In June 2011, he became commander of the Joint Special Operations Command at Fort Bragg, N.C., succeeding McRaven.

Votel, 56, served in the Pentagon as the director of the Army and Joint IED Defeat Task Force and then as deputy director of the Joint IED Defeat Organization.

He also served in Iraq and Afghanistan before being assigned to JSOC as deputy commanding general.

He also served as chief of staff for SOCom. Votel attended the U.S. Military Academy and became an infantry officer in 1980, according to his Department of Defense biography.

McRaven served as JSOC commander from June 2006 to March 2008, according to his U.S. Navy biography. He also held a special operations command position in Europe and was the first director of the NATO Special Operations Forces Coordination Centre.

He was the second Navy SEAL to rise to command of SOCom; his predecessor, Adm. Eric Olson, was the first.

The Washington Post and New York Times contributed to this article.

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