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​Defense Secretary Ash Carter conducts a news conference at MacDill AFB, in Tampa, Fla., Jan. 14, 2016. The Secretary is flanked by Marine Corps Gen. Joseph Dunford, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, left, and Army Gen. Lloyd Austin, commander of US Central Command. DOD photo by Army Sgt. 1st Class Clydell Kinchen.

​Army Gen. Joseph Votel has been nominated to take over US Central Command, putting a long-time special operations soldier in charge of US operations in the Middle East. Defense Secretary Ash Carter made the announcement during a Jan. 14 news conference at CENTCOM headquarters at MacDill AFB, Fla., alongside Votel and Army Gen. Lloyd Austin, who currently leads the command. Votel is the commander of US Special Operations Command, and has previously commanded a Ranger regiment and served as the director of the Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Task Force at the Pentagon. “[Votel] has done a superb job as the commander of US Special Operations Command,” Carter said. “But that’s only one part of the reason why he was my only recommendation to the President to succeed Lloyd. In addition to his purely military experience, Gen. Votel has a wealth of in-depth politico-military experience, that is in working with foreign governments and militaries, and [he] is therefore well-equipped to handle the complex challenges of CENTCOM.”