Senate confirms generals to lead Centcom, Africom

Austin: War in Afghanistan remains Centcom’s top priority

By Karen Parrish
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON — The Senate yesterday confirmed two Army generals as the new commanders of regional combatant commands.
Army Gen. Lloyd J. Austin III, currently the vice chief of staff of the Army, will succeed Marine Corps Gen. James N. Mattis as the next commander of U.S. Central Command.

Army Gen. David M. Rodriguez, who now commands U.S. Army Forces Command at Fort Bragg, N.C., will succeed Army Gen. Carter F. Ham as the commander of U.S. Africa Command.

Centcom’s area of responsibility covers 20 countries in the Middle East and Southwest Asia, including Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran, Syria and Yemen. Africom, formally established in 2008 with headquarters in Stuttgart, Germany, is the nation’s newest geographical combatant command, responsible for operations, exercises and security cooperation on the African continent.

Austin and Rodriguez testified together during their confirmation hearing Feb. 14. Austin told Senate Armed Services Committee members the war in Afghanistan remains Centcom’s top priority.

“I will do everything within my power to help set the broader conditions for our success in this most important endeavor,” he said.

Rodriguez told committee members that as Africom’s commander he would “[work] closely with this committee, as well as all our joint, interagency, intergovernmental and multinational partners to address the challenges we face, and the opportunities to increase stability on this strategically important continent.”

Both Mattis and Ham will retire this year.