TAMPA, FL (Michael Bottoms) – Secretary of Defense, Ashton Carter, presided over the time-honored change-of-command ceremony, attended by Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Marine Corps Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr.
“For both Joe Votel and newly promoted Gen. Tony Thomas, their families have been a vital foundation, providing them the flexibility to answer their country’s call repeatedly and to lead missions of incredible difficulty,” said Carter.
“While we are saying goodbye to a great commander, the special operations bench is deep and we’ve got the good fortune to have another exceptional leader taking command,” said Dunford. “Tony Thomas is a proven combat leader with a wealth of experience and tactical expertise. He’s also a strategic leader who has the intellect and vision to take the command to the next level. I think the men and women of the special operations command couldn’t be in better hands.”
USSOCOM synchronizes the planning of special operations and provides Special Operations Forces to support persistent, networked and distributed Global Combatant Commands’ operations in order to protect and advance our Nation’s interests.
Votel, 58, has commanded USSOCOM since August 2014, and will become the commander of U.S. Central Command.
“Michele and I have been so blessed throughout our almost 36 years of service,” said Votel. “We’ve had the distinct fortune of serving at many locations and working with some of the best and brightest our nation has to offer. We have cherished every assignment and are looking forward to the challenges and opportunities that Central Command will bring.”
Thomas became the eleventh commander of USSOCOM and will be responsible for ensuring the readiness of Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps Special Operations Forces and synchronizing Special Operations planning.
Thomas has been in command of Joint Special Operations Command since July of 2014. A 1980 West Point graduate, Thomas has also served with the 75th Ranger Regiment and was a troop commander, squadron operations officer, unit executive officer and squadron commander within Joint Special Operations Command.
“I am humbled to have been considered and selected to lead this outstanding organization,” said Thomas. “Both Barb and I are excited with what the future brings, and we will continue the standard of excellence set forth by the Votels. I recognize the confidence and trust that you and the President have shown in us.”