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American Forces Press Service

Obama Nominates Kelly to Lead Southern Command

By Lisa Daniel
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Jan. 27, 2012 – President Barack Obama has nominated Marine Corps Lt. Gen. John F. Kelly to be the next commander of U.S. Southern Command, Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta announced today.

If confirmed by the Senate, Kelly would replace Air Force Gen. Douglas M. Fraser at the Miami-based command. Fraser, who took over command of Southcom in June 2009, has not announced his future plans, a Southcom spokesman said today.

If promoted to the four-star position, Kelly will be the third Marine Corps commander of Southcom, following Gen. Peter Pace, who held the command for 12 months ending in September 2001, and Gen. Charles Wilhelm, who commanded Southcom from 1997 to 2000.

Kelly is the former commander of the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force, based at Camp Pendleton, Calif. He commanded the 1st MEF through a year-long mission in Iraq’s al Anbar and Ninewa provinces beginning in early 2008. He returned stateside to command Marine Forces Reserve and Marine Forces North from October 2009 to March 2011. Since then, he has served as the senior military advisor to the secretary of defense.

Southcom comprises a multinational staff of about 1,200 military members, civilians and contractors, including representatives of more than a dozen federal agencies, with a primary mission of protecting southern approaches into the United States, a spokesman said.

The command works with 31 countries and 15 territories on regional security challenges, mainly transnational organized crime to include illegal trafficking, humanitarian assistance, and developing capabilities for keeping the peace.

The command sponsors seven annual multinational training exercises and participates in combined military exercises in Brazil, Chile and elsewhere.

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