Trump nominates new general to lead US wars in the Middle East

Marine Corp. Lt. General nominated to head U.S. Central Command.

President Donald Trump is nominating Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Kenneth McKenzie to lead the military command responsible for U.S. wars in the Middle East.

In a press release on Wednesday, Defense Secretary James Mattis announced that Trump had nominated McKenzie to become the head of U.S. Central Command and receive a fourth star, rising to the rank of general.

As the head of Central Command, McKenzie would be the top officer responsible for overseeing U.S. wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria.

He would replace Army Gen. Joseph Votel, who was nominated by President Obama and has served in the role since March 2016. The heads of combatant commands typically serve in the position for two to three years.

McKenzie is currently the director of the Joint Staff and has briefed reporters on camera in the Pentagon briefing room nearly a dozen times, alongside the Pentagon's chief spokesperson Dana White.

A native of Birmingham, Alabama, McKenzie graduated from The Citadel in 1979 before becoming a Marine and infantry officer, according to his official biography.

Over the course of his career, he has led Marines at all levels, including two combat deployments to Afghanistan and Iraq as the head of the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit. More recently, McKenzie commanded U.S. Marine Corps forces at Central Command and served as the director, strategic plans and policy at the Joint Staff before entering his current role in July 2017.

McKenzie's nomination to Central Command is among a handful of other changes expected among the military's top ranks in the next year.

Over the weekend, the Wall Street Journal reported that Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein, U.S. Strategic Command's Air Force Gen. John Hyten, and Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley were under consideration for the next chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, a position held by Marine Corps Gen. Joseph Dunford since October 2015.

As chairman, Dunford is the country's highest-ranking military officer and the principal military advisor to the president, defense secretary, and National Security Council.

The Wall Street Journal also reported that Trump would nominate McKenzie to Central Command.