Retiring Marine Corps Gen. John Kelly officially handed the reins of the US Southern Command to Navy Adm. Kurt Tidd during a ceremony Thursday. Kelly, who has served as the head of SOUTHCOM since November 2012, previously served as the senior military aid to then-Defense Secretary Leon Panetta. He also commanded I Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward) and Multi-National Force—West in Iraq during the Anbar Awakening. Kelly is the most senior Gold Star father in uniform—his son, 1st Lt. Robert Kelly, was killed in Sangin, Afghanistan, in 2010. Tidd previously served as the director for operations on the Joint Staff. “In this hemisphere and beyond, none of us knows when a crisis may arise,” Defense Secretary Ash Carter said during the change of command ceremony on Thursday. “We cannot predict where the magnificent men and women of SOUTHCOM will be called to save lives, defend our nation, or respond with our partners, but this we do know: We know Adm. Tidd will lead this team with certainty, clarity, and with the total confidence of me and the President.”