TAMPA, Fla. (October 27, 2015) — Lieutenant Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie, Jr., relinquished command of U.S. Marine Corps Forces Central Command to Lt. Gen. Dave “Smoke” Beydler during a change of command ceremony Oct. 27 at the Surf’s Edge aboard MacDill Air Force Base.
General Robert B. Neller, 37th Commandant of the Marine Corps, presided over the ceremony. Col. Brad Close, MARCENT chief of staff, was the commander of troops.
For Beydler, it was a busy morning. The former commanding general of II Marine Expeditionary Force was promoted to his current rank shortly before the change of command, by Neller, to properly assume his position as MARCENT commander, a three-star billet.
Sergeant Maj. Larry Fineran, MARCENT sergeant major, passed the MARCENT battle colors to McKenzie, who in turn handed them to Beydler symbolizing the transfer of command.
“A lot of great things happened today. We watched Dave [Beydler] get promoted and the transfer of a command,” said Neller, a former MARCENT commander from 2012 to 2014. “It’s a great honor for you to be confirmed into such a warrior’s institution.”
“I don’t believe a commander has ever been served better by a staff here,” said an appreciative McKenzie, who will be heading to the Pentagon to lead the Joint Chief of Staff, Strategic, Plans, and Policy section. “It’s been an honor and pleasure to get in line and march along with the Marines here, and in harm’s way, and our joint and international partners at CENTCOM.
“‘Smoke,’ I am delighted to turn things over to you,” McKenzie added. “I think you are going to accomplish great things here. With your leadership, it’s only going to go further, better and faster.”
With that a humble and gracious Beydler took center stage.
“Commandant, I fully understand the investment of the institution and this promotion. It’s great to be back in Tampa and part of the Central Command team,” said Beydler, a 1981 graduate from the U.S. Naval Academy and an F/A-18 Hornet pilot by trade. “I look forward to the challenges and opportunities ahead. I thank you General McKenzie for strongly setting me up for success.”
With assignments at United States European Command in Stuttgart, Germany, the United States Central Command Combined Air Operations Center in Al Udeid, Qatar, and United States Joint Forces Command in Norfolk, Va., Beydler brings a wealth of experience to the Marines and Sailors of MARCENT.
This will also be his second tour at AFB MacDill and U.S. Central Command. From 2012 to 2014 Beydler served as the CENTCOM Director for Strategy, Plans and Policy.
MARCENT is designated as the Marine Corps service component for U.S. Central Command making Beydler responsible for all Marine Corps forces in the CENTCOM area of responsibility.
As a pilot, Beydler has accumulated approximately 4,000 flight hours in tactical jet aircraft with more than 3,000 in the F/A-18. Combined with more than 30 decades of leading Marines, Beydler will ensure the next chapter in MARCENT history will be ready to soar!