Carter announces new commander for Middle East

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Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter. Photo by Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter announced Thursday that Army Gen. Joseph Votel will be nominated as the next commander for U.S. Central Command. Photo by Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

MACDILL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. — Defense Secretary Ash Carter is announcing that the general who heads his special operations forces will be nominated as the next commander for the Middle East.

Army Gen. Joseph Votel would take over leadership of U.S. Central Command, which oversees military operations in Iraq and Syria against the Islamic State Group. He would succeed Army Gen. Lloyd Austin, who is retiring.

Carter announced the decision at Central Command headquarters in Tampa, standing alongside Votel. He was in town to meet with his commanders about how the fight against IS will take shape this year.

Votel, 57, is a former commander of the 75th Ranger Regiment and a veteran of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. He headed the secretive Joint Special Operations Command before taking over Special Operations Command in 2014.

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