President Joe Biden nominates new CENTCOM commander

Lt. Gen. Michael “Erik” Kurilla at the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) change of command, March 5, 2021, Fort Campbell, Ky. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Andrea Notter)

President Joe Biden nominated Lt. Gen. Michael “Erik” Kurilla to lead the U.S. Central Command, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin announced Friday.

Kurilla has been commander of the 18th Airborne Corps at Fort Bragg, since October 2019. The corps has four divisions, including the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, and numerous brigades.

Pentagon officials have not named a potential replacement for Kurilla.

The nomination will require being promoted as a four-star general and for Congress to approve it.

According to congressional records, Biden’s recommendation for Kurilla to be promoted to general was received by the Senate on Wednesday and referred to the Senate Armed Service Committee.

Kurilla served as chief of staff for the U.S. Central Command from August 2018 to September 2019, before returning to Fort Bragg in October 2019.

He also served as the 82nd’s commander from August 2016 to August 2018.

The U.S. Central Command is based out of MacDill Air Force Base, Florida, and is currently led by Marine Gen. Frank McKenzie.

According to the command’s website, its priorities are: deterring Iran, resolving conflict in Afghanistan, defeating the Islamic State of Syria campaign in Syria and Iraq, countering unmanned aircraft system threats and focusing on stability and security for internally displaced persons and refugees.

In an April statement to the Senate Armed Services Committee, McKenzie said that the command’s mission is “to direct and enable military operations and activities with allies and partners to increase regional security and stability in support of U.S. enduring interests.”

McKenzie said that the command aligns with the president’s Interim National Security Strategic Guidance “to work with like-minded allies and partners to advance our shared interests to address the four global challenges” across CENTCOM’s area of responsibility, which are China, Russia, Iran and violent extremist organizations.


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