President Trump is expected to switch out commanders across the Middle East and Europe in the administration’s most dramatic change to U.S. military leadership so far, according to a new report from The Wall Street Journal.
The Journal reported that the personnel shifts will affect officers fighting in the Middle East, as well as those working to counter Russia, overseeing Guantánamo Bay and engaging in stealth operations around the world.
Officials told the Journal that Army Lt. Gen. Richard Clarke is anticipated to be formally appointed to U.S. Special Operations Command, in Tampa, Fla. He would succeed Army Gen. Tony Thomas, who will retire next year. The Special Operations Command oversees the specialized forces of all military branches.
As of now, Clarke serves as the director of strategic plans and policy for the Pentagon’s Joint Staff. He also served as operations officer at Joint Special Operations Command when the Pentagon initiated the raid that killed Osama bin Laden. At that post, Clarke played a key role in the mission, participating in the planning, training and execution of the raid.
Trump will likely nominate two other commanders to replace retiring heads of regional combatant commands, several U.S. officials told the Journal.
Air Force Gen. Tod Wolters is anticipated to be chosen to head the U.S. European Command and NATO supreme allied commander Europe.
In the past, Wolters has served as the operations officer on the Joint Staff at the Pentagon. Wolters currently runs Air Force Europe, Air Force Africa and Allied Air Command, all of which are based in Germany. He has especially focused on combating Russia in recent years.
Marine Lt. Gen. Kenneth McKenzie Jr. is expected to take on U.S. Central Command, after Army Gen. Joseph Votel, according to the Journal. That position is also out of Tampa and is thought of as the most prominent in the military. The post is responsible for all operations in the Middle East.