McKenzie Takes Over CENTCOM

Marine Corps Gen. Kenneth McKenzie, shown above during a March 2018 press briefing at the Pentagon, assumed command of US Central Command during a ceremony Thursday. DoD photo by Navy MC1 Kathryn Holm.

Marine Corps Gen. Kenneth McKenzie assumed command of US Central Command during a ceremony Thursday, taking over for retiring Army Gen. Joseph Votel.

McKenzie last served as the director of the Joint Staff at the Pentagon. He also previously served as the director of strategy, plans, and policy for CENTCOM and the commander of Marine Corps Forces for the command.

He takes over at a time when the US-led fight against ISIS in Iraq and Syria has largely subsided with the defeat of the group’s caliphate, though operations in Afghanistan have increased.

Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan, speaking at the Tampa, Fla., ceremony, said McKenzie has trained his whole life for this job.

“We are thankful you have accepted the challenge. Our job back at the pentagon is to support you,” Shanahan said. “We stand behind you, and we have the highest confidence in your abilities.”

Votel had led the command since March 2016.