Army's Green Berets get new commander

Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno selected Brig. Gen. Christopher Haas to head up the Army Special Forces Command. Haas is currently the commander of Combined Forces Special Operations Component Command-Afghanistan. 

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The one-star general served as the second ever commander of Special Operations Command-Africa, shortly after the command's creation in 2008. 

Hass took over SOCAFRICA from the command's first general, then-Brig. Gen. Patrick Higgins, in 2009. Higgins has since received his second star and is now the head of Joint Integrated Air and Missile Defense Organization. 

Odierno has also selected Brig. Gen. Sean Mulholland to head up Special Operations Command-South, which is the special-forces wing of Southern Command, according to the release. 

Mulholland is currently the deputy director of operations at Special Operations Command at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla. Prior to his position at SOCOM, Mulholland was the commander of 7th Special Forces Group. 

The 7th SFG, headquartered at Ft. Bragg, N.C., is responsible for special operations in Central and South America. 

In April, Air Force Brig. Gen. Stephen Clark was named the new deputy commander of Joint Special Operations Command. Elements of the the highly secretive special operations command carried out the raid on Osama bin Laden's Pakistani compound last May. 

Odierno's nominations come as DOD prepares to expand the role of U.S. special forces in Afghanistan and around the world. 

U.S. and Afghan special forces, largely backed up by Afghan army units, will pick up the slack of American soldiers preparing to leave the country this summer.

In anticipation of that larger role, DOD is looking to Congress to expand its authorities to carry out counterterrorism operations across the globe. 

"Most of the authorities that we have right now are narrowly construed to counterterrorism ... [but] I think for some countries we may need a little bit more flexibility to go in there," Michael Sheehan, assistant secretary of Defense for special operations and low-intensity conflict, told lawmakers in March. 

"If we have a broader range of authorities, we can respond with more agility to each country with a different set of programs ... I think that's the direction we're thinking," he said at the time. 

In April, the CIA requested authority from the White House to expand its drone campaign against al Qaeda targets in Yemen. 

Langley wants White House permission to take out terror targets based on intelligence showing patterns of suspicious behavior, such as insurgents gathering at known al Qaeda locations or unloading explosives, according to recent news reports. 

Under that requested authority, CIA drones can launch air strikes against suspected terrorists in Yemen even if it cannot confirm their identities. 

On Wednesday, a U.S-led air strike against an al Qaeda-run training camp in southern Yemen ended in the deaths of 15 militants. 

Washington refused to comment on the strikes, according to reports by The Associated Press.