Votel to succeed McRaven as SOCom commander at MacDill

The Army general will take over next month.
Army Gen. Joseph Votel now leads the Joint Special Operations Command at Fort Bragg, N.C.
Army Gen. Joseph Votel now leads the Joint Special Operations Command at Fort Bragg, N.C.
Published July 24 2014
Updated July 25 2014

TAMPA — Army Gen. Joseph Votel arrives next month in Tampa and will assume leadership of the U.S. Special Operations Command, replacing the man widely credited with planning the mission that killed Osama bin Laden.

Votel was confirmed by the U.S. Senate earlier this week to become the 10th commander of SOCom, which is headquartered at MacDill Air Force Base.

"I am pleased that the Senate expeditiously approved Gen. Votel's promotion," read a statement Thursday from Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio. "With the world more uncertain than ever, we will continue to rely on the brave men and women on SOCom to act as the tip of the spear in defense of our nation."

Votel, 56, succeeds Navy Adm. William McRaven, who became SOCom chief in 2011. McRaven, who is retiring, is famous for his key role in planning the mission that killed bin Laden in Pakistan in 2011.

He also served as the first director of the NATO Special Operations Forces Coordination Centre, according to his Navy biography.

Votel, who was nominated by President Barack Obama one month ago, also has a lengthy service record.

He has been commander of Joint Special Operations Command at Fort Bragg, N.C., since he succeeded McRaven there in June 2011. He previously served as chief of staff for SOCom and has also worked in the Pentagon as director of the Army and Joint IED Defeat Task Force, then as deputy director of the Joint IED Defeat Organization, according to his Department of Defense biography.

Michele Votel, 56, said her husband was traveling and shared the news of his confirmation with her in an email Thursday.

"It's an absolute honor and privilege for us," she said in a phone interview. She said they plan to move to Tampa in August.

"My husband's a very good man and they selected him because they thought he would be good for the job," she said. "He's humble, hard-working and very ethical. He's the original quiet man."

Joseph Votel spent four years at West Point, then enlisted in the Army in May 1980, she said. They met a few years before while working for a nursing home in St. Paul, Minn.

"I never dreamed then," she said, "that I'd be married to a four-star general."

Times news researcher John Martin contributed to this report. Contact Zack Peterson at or (813) 226-3446. Follow @zackpeterson918.