Obama picks Special Operations commander to lead CENTCOM

WASHINGTON — The White House will nominate a veteran Special Operations commander to lead U.S. Central Command, underscoring the Obama administration’s affinity for using secretive elite military forces in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan.

“Senior officials this week approved Army Gen. Joseph Votel, who has headed U.S. Special Operations Command since Aug. 2014…”

“This administration has seen Special Operations to be a very effective tool in counter-terrorism,” said Paul Scharre, a former Army Ranger and Pentagon official now at the Center for a New American Security, a Washington think tank.

As leader of Special Operations, and of the more secretive Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) before that, Votel has been closely involved with the kind of missions, often launched by small numbers of Delta, SEAL or other elite forces to hunt down militants, rescue hostages or undertake other risky activities overseas, that have become a hallmark of President Barack Obama’s approach to dealing with militant threats.

Combined with drone operations and efforts to train skilled local partners, White House officials have seen those missions as more efficient and effective than the large-scale troop deployments that characterized former President George W. Bush’s wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.


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