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Military shuffling could put former Fort Bragg generals in prominent positions

By Drew Brooks | The Fayetteville Observer, N.C. (Tribune News Service) | Published: January 7, 2016

Shuffling among the U.S. military's combatant commanders could put former Fort Bragg generals in prominent positions.

According to reports, President Obama is expected to nominate Gen. Joseph Votel to replace Gen. Lloyd Austin as commanding general of U.S. Central Command.

Those same reports say Gen. Mike Scaparrotti will be nominated to take command of U.S. European Command.

All three generals have strong ties to Fort Bragg.

Votel commanded Joint Special Operations Command on Fort Bragg until July 2014, when he became the head of U.S. Special Operations Command at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida.

At JSOC, he oversaw the U.S. military's secret counter-terrorist units. The unit is officially charged with studying, planning and conducting joint operations involving special operations troops from all services. Its troops include special operations forces from every service, including Navy SEALs, Air Force special tactics airmen and the Army's 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta, which is commonly known as Delta Force.

Several of the command's units, including Delta Force and the 24th Special Tactics Squadron, are based at Fort Bragg.

Votel is a veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan while serving with the 75th Ranger Regiment and also served as the 82nd Airborne Division's deputy commanding general for operations in Afghanistan. He served as JSOC's deputy commander before taking command of the unit.

Austin is a former Fort Bragg commander who served as the Army's vice chief of staff before taking the reins of U.S. Central Command in 2013.

Austin was commanding general of the 18th Airborne Corps from December 2006 to April 2009. For the last year of that time, he was in charge of day-to-day operations in Iraq.

He then commanded U.S. Forces-Iraq from September 2010 through the completion of the mission in December 2011.

His rise to four-star general included several leadership positions in the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg. He has been the operations officer for the division, as well as commander of the 2nd Battalion of the 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment and the 3rd Brigade.

Scaparrotti is a former commander of the 82nd Airborne Division who has led U.S. Forces Korea since 2013. The general relinquished command of the All Americans at Fort Bragg in 2010, after leading the division on a year-long deployment in Afghanistan.

If nominated and approved, he would replace Air Force Gen. Philip M. Breedlove at U.S. European Command.

The nominations of Votel and Scaparrotti would have to pass the Senate. Austin, according to reports, is expected to retire.

The shuffling among senior leaders is likely to have further effects to leaders on Fort Bragg, which is home to more than 30 general officers, more than any military installation outside the Pentagon.

Lt. Gen. Raymond Thomas, who took the reins of Joint Special Operations Command from Votel in 2014, is rumored to be following the general's footsteps again.

Thomas has been included in some reports as the president's choice for the next commander of U.S. Special Operations Command.

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©2016 The Fayetteville Observer (Fayetteville, N.C.)

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Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, left, exchanges greetings with U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Joseph L. Votel, the commander of Joint Special Operations Command, at Fort Bragg, N.C., April 23, 2014.
Erin A. Kirk-Cuomo/DOD

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