President Biden will nominate the head of the Army‘s 18th Airborne Corps for promotion to four-star general and name him the next commander of U.S. Central Command.
Lt. Gen. Michael E. Kurilla will replace Marine Corps Gen. Frank McKenzie, who is expected to retire after leading the Middle East-focused Centcom for three years, according to multiple news reports.
The U.S. military focus has shifted from the Middle East toward the Indo-Pacific region and identified China as its primary “pacing challenge” going forward. Meanwhile, Russian troops continue massing along the border with Ukraine as relations with Moscow return to Cold War levels. However, the U.S. presence in the Middle East continues with troops still operating in Iraq and Syria to counter Islamic State forces.
If confirmed by the Senate, Lt. Gen. Kurilla also will be saddled with the after-effects of the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan and a possible revival of al Qaeda and other terror groups in his command area of responsibility.
Lt. Gen. Kurilla has high-level experience with Centcom. He was its chief of staff before taking over the 18th Airborne Corps in 2019. He is also a former commander of the famed 82nd Airborne Division. The soon-to-be four-star general also completed a tour as commander of Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve, aimed at the territorial defeat of Islamic State, Army officials said.