March 29, 2019
Release Number 20190329-01
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
TAMPA, Fla. - U.S. Marine Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr. assumed command of U.S Central Command from Gen. Joseph L. Votel at a ceremony here Thursday.
As commander, Gen. McKenzie will oversee military operations and theater security cooperation activities across a region that spans 20 nations, 4.6 million square miles and three strategic maritime chokepoints.
Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick M. Shanahan officiated the ceremony. During his remarks, he thanked Gen. Votel for his leadership and commended the CENTCOM team for their professionalism.
Addressing the more than 70,000 U.S. forces operating in CENTCOM's area of responsibility, Gen. McKenzie stressed the importance of building upon the successes of his predecessor.
"We know that even as we build upon the gains of the last few years and accomplishments in Syria the last few weeks, new challenges always await this command," Gen. McKenzie said. "I know that the battle-tested team at CENTCOM remains in the ready to do what has to be done."
Gen. McKenzie closed by saying, "I am excited to follow Joe Votel, to build upon the remarkable work he has done. It is an honor to join this team of dedicated professionals. It is good to be back and I am ready to continue the march. Semper Fidelis."
In his remarks, Gen. Votel emphasized partnerships and relationships fostered throughout the CENTCOM area of responsibility. "We have worked with our partners to improve capabilities, build resilience, enhance interoperability, deter our adversaries and safeguard our common interests,"
Gen. Votel said. "Our ships, our airplanes, our Soldiers and Marines, and our special operations forces all operate together. For the collective good."
Gen. McKenzie previously served as CENTCOM's director of strategy, plans and policy, and commanded U.S. Marine Forces, Central Command. Most recently, Gen. McKenzie served as director of the Joint Staff.