A New General is nominated by Biden to lead military operations in the Middle East
According to numerous defense sources and nomination paperwork given to Congress, President Joe Biden is proposing Army Lt. Gen. Michael Erik Kurilla to be the next head of US Central Command, which handles military operations in the Middle East.
Gen. Frank McKenzie, who has led CENTCOM since early 2019, would be replaced by Kurilla. McKenzie’s term is set to expire in spring. The nomination was initially published in the Wall Street Journal. If approved, Kurilla, the commander of the Army’s 18th Airborne Corps at Fort Bragg, would get his fourth star and the rank of general.
Kurilla will take over as chief of US Central Command once approved, at a time when the Pentagon is still dealing with the tumultuous August 2021 pullout from Afghanistan and keeping a close eye on Iran. The White House has been contacted for comment by CNN. Kurilla previously served as chief of staff to Gen. Joseph Votel, who led CENTCOM throughout the Obama and Trump administrations. He was critically wounded in a gun fight in Iraq in 2005.
Kurilla was also the assistant commanding general and director of operations at the Joint Special Operations Command, which is responsible for the US military’s counter-terrorism actions, under the Obama administration. Prior to that, he served as commander of the 82nd Airborne Division for two years after holding a number of other prominent military positions.
His nomination comes at the end of a turbulent week for US troops in the Middle East, with military sites in Iraq and Syria that house US troops being assaulted on Wednesday, but no US servicemen were killed in the attacks. After the strike in Syria, which was carried out by alleged Iranian-backed militias who fired eight rounds of indirect fire, US-led coalition troops retaliated. At least five missiles hit within the Iraqi military’s al-Asad facility in western Anbar province on Wednesday, although there were no injuries. US soldiers are also stationed at the Al-Asad facility.