Apr. 1, 2022
Release Number 20220401-02
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
TAMPA, Fla. – The outgoing commander of U.S. Central Command, U.S. Marine Corps Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr., relinquished command today during a change of command ceremony downtown. U.S. Army Gen. Michael “Erik” Kurilla assumed command of CENTCOM from McKenzie. Kurilla previously commanded the XVIII Airborne Corps at Fort Bragg, N.C. and served as the CENTCOM chief of staff from August 2018 to September 2019.
The event, officiated by Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III, brought together senior defense leaders from around the world, CENTCOM’s component commanders, elected officials and other distinguished visitors.
“U.S. Central Command will continue to thrive under the steadfast leadership of General Kurilla during a critical time in a region that remains dangerous and complex,” said Austin, who himself commanded CENTCOM from March 2013 to April 2016.
“I’m honored to serve alongside the soldiers, sailors, airmen, guardians, marines, coastguardsmen and civilians of this command,” said Kurilla.
CENTCOM comprises more than 44,000 service and family members overseas and nearly 5,000 personnel assigned and attached to the headquarters at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla.
Gen. McKenzie assumed command of CENTCOM in March 2019. During his tenure, McKenzie led high-profile missions including the elimination of terrorist leaders Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and Qassem Soleimani, the U.S. military’s withdrawal from Afghanistan and subsequent mission to transport more than 124,000 Americans and Afghan evacuees, and the transition of coalition forces in Iraq from a combat to an advise, assist, and enable role in support of Iraqi forces.
“For the past 21 years, CENTCOM has been the only combatant command in close and enduring contact with America’s enemies,” said McKenzie, who will retire after 42 years of military service. “It’s where every combat arms commander wants to be.”
“I can think of no one better qualified to write CENTCOM’s next chapter than Erik Kurilla,” said McKenzie.
Kurilla will oversee all U.S. military missions throughout the 21-country area of responsibility in the Middle East, Levant, and Central Asia, as well as leading the 78-nation campaign against ISIS.
Retirement Ceremony Honors CENTCOM Commander