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New military change: Civilian special ops leaders to report to SECDEF for first time ever, Miller announces

Former Acting Defense Secretary Christopher C. Miller. (DoD Photo by U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Jack Sanders)
November 18, 2020

Acting Secretary of Defense Chris Miller announced on Wednesday morning that special operations civilian leadership will report directly to his role for the first time instead of “current bureaucratic channels.”

The change will “put Special Operations Command on par with military services for the first time,” Miller said during his announcement at the Special Operations Memorial Plaza, Fort Bragg, N.C.

Miller also said the change would “restore agility to the department and command,” as well as “streamline information flow, enhance decision making” and support commanders.

“We are forging the next chapter in special operations history,” Miller added.

The U.S. Special Operations Command was created in 1987 with civilian leadership to oversee and advocate for the command.

Miller himself formerly served as one civilian leader in charge of special operations forces, having filled the role of assistant secretary of defense of special operations and low-intensity conflict for two months earlier this year. Miller then left the post to serve as director of National Counterterrorism Center.

The announcement comes one day after Miller publicly announced the formal withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan and Iraq, a decision by President Donald Trump. The withdrawal will bring U.S. troop levels in Afghanistan from approximately 4,500 to 2,500, and in Iraq from some 3,000 to 2,500.

“We are now bringing these conflicts to their successful and responsible conclusion under the bold leadership of President Trump,” Miller said during his Wednesday special operations announcement, before warning that U.S. forces would “not hesitate” to return to the region if malign actors attempted to interfere with anti-terrorism efforts.