Joseph Votel

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Joseph Votel
General Joseph L. Votel (USCENTCOM).jpg
Votel in 2016
Birth name Joseph Leonard Votel
Born (1958-02-14) February 14, 1958 (age 61)
Saint Paul, Minnesota, U.S.
Allegiance  United States
Service/branch  United States Army
Years of service 1980–2019
Rank Army-USA-OF-09.svg General
Commands held

Joseph Leonard Votel (born February 14, 1958) is a retired four-star general in the United States Army who was commander of United States Central Command from March 2016 to March 2019.[1] Before that, he served as commander of the United States Special Operations Command.

Early life and education

Born on February 14, 1958, in Saint Paul, Minnesota,[2] Votel attended the United States Military Academy and was commissioned in 1980 as an Army Infantry Officer. His initial assignments were to the 3rd Infantry Division in Germany where he served as a Rifle Platoon Leader, Executive Officer, Battalion Adjutant and Rifle Company Commander.

His military schools include Infantry Officer Basic and Advanced Courses, United States Army Command and General Staff College, and the United States Army War College.[3]


Following this tour, he was assigned to Headquarters, Allied Forces Southern Europe – Naples, Italy, and the NATO Peace Implementation Force (IFOR) in Sarajevo. He commanded the 2nd Battalion, 22nd Infantry (Light) at Fort Drum, N.Y. and afterwards he commanded the 1st Ranger Battalion. Later he commanded the 75th Ranger Regiment, during Operation Enduring Freedom.[4] On the 19th of October 2001, Votel led 200 Rangers from 3rd Battalion, who parachuted towards an airfield south of Kandahar, and attacked several Taliban targets.[5]

General officer

As a general officer, Votel served in the Pentagon as the Director of the Army and Joint Improvised Explosive Device (IED) Defeat Task Force and subsequently as the Deputy Director of the Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization established under the Deputy Secretary of Defense.

He also served as the Deputy Commanding General (Operations), 82nd Airborne Division / CJTF-82, Operation Enduring Freedom, Afghanistan, and was subsequently assigned as the Deputy Commanding General of the Joint Special Operations Command, Fort Bragg, N.C. His most recent assignment was as the Commanding General of the Joint Special Operations Command.[3]


On June 24, 2014, he was nominated by President Barack Obama to succeed ADM William H. McRaven as the 10th Commander of United States Special Operations Command. In July, he was confirmed by Congress to be the next commander of USSOCOM. The change of command took place on August 28, 2014.[6] LTG Raymond A. Thomas replaced Votel as commander of Joint Special Operations Command.


Votel visiting Manbij, Syria as CENTCOM commander, June 21, 2018

Votel became the commander of USCENTCOM on March 30, 2016.

On April 23, 2018, he made his first official visit to Israel as CENTCOM commander. During his visit, Votel was scheduled to meet with Israeli Defense Force Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot, National Security Adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat [he], and other senior defense officials.[7]

As CENTCOM commander, Votel oversaw the U.S.'s continued War on Terrorism in the middle east region, particularly the CJTF-OIR's fight against the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant. After nearly 40 years of military service, Votel officially retired on March 28, 2019, five days after the decisive Battle of Baghuz Fawqani, which saw the territorial collapse of the Islamic State in Syria. He was succeeded as CENTCOM commander by Kenneth McKenzie.[8]

Turkey coup attempt

In a speech on July 29, 2016, Turkish President Erdoğan accused Votel of "siding with coup plotters",[9] after Votel accused the Turkish government of arresting the Pentagon's contacts in Turkey.[10]

Awards and decorations

CIB2.png Combat Infantryman Badge with Star (denoting 2nd award)
Ranger Tab.svg Ranger Tab
CMP 2.jpg Master Parachutist Badge with 2 Combat Jump Devices
Egyptian Parachutist Badge.PNG Egyptian Parachutist Badge
United States Army Staff Identification Badge.png Army Staff Identification Badge
Seal of the United States Central Command.png  United States Central Command Badge
75 Ranger Regiment SCSIB.png 75th Ranger Regiment Combat Service Identification Badge
75th Ranger Regiment Distinctive Unit Insignia.svg 75th Ranger Regiment Distinctive Unit Insignia
ArmyOSB.svg 8 Overseas Service Bars
Bronze oakleaf-3d.svgBronze oakleaf-3d.svg Defense Distinguished Service Medal with two bronze oak leaf clusters
Army Distinguished Service Medal
Bronze oakleaf-3d.svgBronze oakleaf-3d.svg Defense Superior Service Medal with two Oak Leaf Clusters
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Legion of Merit with one Oak Leaf Cluster
Bronze oakleaf-3d.svgBronze oakleaf-3d.svgBronze oakleaf-3d.svg Bronze Star Medal with 3 Oak Leaf Clusters
Defense Meritorious Service Medal
Bronze oakleaf-3d.svgBronze oakleaf-3d.svgBronze oakleaf-3d.svg Meritorious Service Medal with 3 Oak Leaf Clusters
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Joint Service Commendation Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster
Army Commendation Medal
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Army Achievement Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Joint Meritorious Unit Award with Oak Leaf Cluster
Valorous Unit Award
Meritorious Unit Commendation
Superior Unit Award
Bronze star
National Defense Service Medal with bronze Service Star
Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal with Arrowhead Device
Bronze star
Southwest Asia Service Medal with bronze Service Star
Arrowhead device.svgSilver-service-star-3d.svg Afghanistan Campaign Medal with Arrowhead Device and silver Campaign Star
Bronze-service-star-3d-vector.svgBronze-service-star-3d-vector.svgBronze-service-star-3d-vector.svg Iraq Campaign Medal with three Campaign Stars
Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal
Global War on Terrorism Service Medal
Army Service Ribbon
Award numeral 3.svg Army Overseas Service Ribbon with bronze "3" Award Numeral Device
Bronze star
NATO Medal for service with ISAF with bronze Service Star


  1. ^ Tara Copp (August 21, 2018). "New CENTCOM, SOCOM leadership named". Military Times. Retrieved March 28, 2019.
  2. ^ "NOMINATIONS BEFORE THE SENATE ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE, SECOND SESSION, 113TH CONGRESS" (PDF). Washington, DC: Superintendent of Documents. 2015. pp. 789–793.
  3. ^ a b [1], U.S. Department of Defense, dated 2014.
  4. ^ Dan Lamothe, The swift, quiet rise of Lt. Gen. Joseph Votel, Special Operations commander, The Washington Post, June 25, 2014.
  5. ^ Gal Perl Finkel, Win the close fight, The Jerusalem Post, March 21, 2017.
  6. ^ Votel to succeed McRaven as SOCOM commander at MacDill, Tampa Bay Times, By Zack Peterson, dated 24 July 2014, last accessed 25 July 2014
  7. ^ "Commander of US troops in Syria makes unannounced first visit to Israel".
  8. ^ "US Marine Corps General McKenzie replaces retiring Votel as CENTCOM Commander". 29 March 2019. Retrieved 31 March 2019.
  9. ^ "Turkey's Erdoğan to drop lawsuits against people who insulted him". BBC News. 29 July 2016.
  10. ^ Lake, Eli (2016-07-28). "America's Friends Get Arrested in Turkey's Post-Coup Purges". Bloomberg View.

External links

Military offices
Preceded by
Ken Keen
Commander of the 75th Ranger Regiment
Succeeded by
James C. Nixon
Preceded by
William H. McRaven
Commander of Joint Special Operations Command
Succeeded by
Raymond A. Thomas III
Commander of United States Special Operations Command
Preceded by
Lloyd J. Austin III
Commander of United States Central Command
Succeeded by
Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr.
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