WASHINGTON — President Biden has nominated Lieutenant General Michael E. Kurilla as the next head of the military marquee combatant operations command responsible for prosecuting the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, according to paperwork sent to the Senate.
General Kurilla, if confirmed, would be General Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr. replaced, whose term of office ends this spring.
As the leader of the Central Command, General Kurilla would be responsible for the government’s efforts to prevent terrorist groups from using Afghanistan again as a launching pad for attacks on the West. In withdrawing US troops from the 20-year war there last year, Mr. Biden decided that the United States’ new strategy would be to use drones and other attacks from afar, or “over the horizon,” to counter such threats. to suppress in Afghanistan.
The chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan has largely preoccupied the Central Command over the past year. But General Kurilla will also have to keep an eye on Iran, where faltering efforts to revive the nuclear deal negotiated by President Barack Obama and abandoned by his successor, President Donald J. Trump, have led to increased tensions.
The Central Command is also responsible for the Middle East, including Iraq and Syria, where military bases with US troops were attacked on Wednesday. No US troops were killed in the attacks, but defense officials have said a series of recent attacks could be related to the anniversary of the Trump administration’s assassination of Iran’s top military commander, Qassim Suleimani, in January 2020.
General Kurilla is a tried and true commander who was wounded in a firefight in 2005 during the Iraq War in the city of Mosul when he was a battalion commander. He rose through the ranks, holding positions as chief of staff to the then Chief of Army Central Command, General Joseph L. Votel, and assistant commander general and director of operations at the Joint Special Operations Command.
General Kurilla was also commander of the 82nd Airborne Division, one of the army’s most proven units. He is currently the commander of the Army’s 18th Airborne Corps at Fort Bragg in North Carolina. Along with his appointment, he is promoted to lieutenant general general.
Raised in Elk River, Minnesota, the general holds a bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering from the United States Military Academy at West Point, an MBA from Regis University in Denver, and a master’s degree in national security studies from the National War College.
“While Lieutenant General Kurilla is honored to be named to serve as commander of US Central Command, he is not expecting confirmation and remains focused solely on his current responsibilities as commander of the XVIII Airborne Corps,” Colonel Joe Buccino , a spokesman for General Kurilla, said in a text message.