The U.S. military has a new top commander for the fight against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, and the region is about to get a new special operations commander.
Defense Secretary Ashton Carter last month quietly put Army Lt. Gen. Sean MacFarland in charge of the coalition fighting ISIS in Iraq and Syria. Carter announced the appointment Friday, following a spate of criticism that the Obama administration’s counter-ISIS campaign lacked coordinated leadership as it stretched across agencies also including the White House, State Department, and intelligence community.
“Rather than three generals responsible for different aspects of the campaign, as had been the case, I have empowered Lt. Gen. MacFarland as the single commander of counter-ISIL activities in both Iraq and Syria,” Carter said. “His efforts will be critical in the coming months as we continue to provide support for capable partners fighting on the front lines.”
Additionally, Army Maj. Gen. Darsie Rogers will replace Maj. Gen. Michael Nagata as commander of U.S. special operations forces in the Middle East, according to a military official. Nagata oversaw the failed Obama administration effort to train Syrian rebels to fight ISIS. Nagata, who is highly regarded among senior brass, is rumored to be in line for a senior position at National Counterterrorism Center in Washington, a post that would earn him a third star if confirmed by the Senate.