Pentagon officially announces pick for Middle East commander

Pentagon officially announces pick for Middle East commander
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President TrumpDonald John TrumpSunday shows preview: Trump sells U.N. reorganizing and Kavanaugh allegations dominate Ex-Trump staffer out at CNN amid “false and defamatory accusations” Democrats opposed to Pelosi lack challenger to topple her MORE has officially tapped Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Kenneth McKenzie to become the next chief of U.S. Central Command, the Pentagon announced Wednesday.

McKenzie, currently the director of the Joint Staff, was also nominated to receive a fourth star, according to the news release.

McKenzie’s nomination was one of several imminent nominations first reported by the Wall Street Journal on Sunday.

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If confirmed, McKenzie would take over for Gen. Joseph Votel, who has led Central Command (Centcom) since March 2016 and is expected to step down in the spring as part of a regular rotation.

Centcom, which has its headquarters in Florida, oversees the Middle East and parts of South Asia, with its area of responsibility stretching from Egypt to Pakistan.

It is among the most prominent commands in the military, overseeing U.S. military operations in the active battlefields of Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan and Yemen.

McKenzie has served as Joint Staff director since July 2017. The high-profile role is typically seen as a stepping stone to more senior commands.

His public profile, in particular, has grown in recent months as he has appeared in the Pentagon briefing room alongside chief spokeswoman Dana White for semi-regular briefings.

McKenzie, who joined the Marines in 1979, has had multiple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. He was Centcom’s director of strategy, plans and policy in 2010 and in 2014, took command of U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Central Command.