U.S. Marine Corps Lieutenant General John Kelly is scheduled to assume duties as commander of U.S. Southern Command from U.S. Air Force General Douglas Fraser during a formal change-of-command ceremony on November 19 at SOUTHCOM’s headquarters in Miami, Florida.
Gen. Fraser, who began his tenure as commander of SOUTHCOM June 25, 2009, will retire after 37 years of distinguished military service as an Air Force officer, pilot and military leader. While commander of SOUTHCOM, Fraser led Operation Unified Response, the Defense Department’s support to U.S. and international relief efforts in Haiti following the devastating earthquake of Jan. 12, 2010, and the largest disaster response mission in modern U.S. military history.
Lt. Gen. Kelly’s presidential nomination for appointment to the grade of general and assignment as SOUTHCOM commander was approved by the U.S. Senate July 26. He will receive his fourth star in a private military promotion ceremony November 19 before assuming duties as SOUTHCOM’s newest Commander.
Since March 2011, Lt. Gen. Kelly served as Senior Military Advisor to the Secretary of Defense. His career includes tours as Commander of Marine Forces Reserve and Marine Forces North, Commanding General, I Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward) and commander of the 1st Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, 1st Marine Division at Camp Pendleton, California. He has also served combat tours in Iraq and tours as the Commandant of the Marine Corps’ Liaison Officer to the U.S. House of Representatives and Legislative Assistant.
Kelly enlisted in the Marines in 1970 and was commissioned as a Marine officer in 1976 after graduating from the University of Massachusetts. He has attended the Marine Corps Command and Staff College and the School for Advanced Warfare at Quantico, Va., and is a 1995 graduate of the National War College in Washington D.C.
U.S. Southern Command is one of the nation’s six geographically-focused unified commands with responsibility for U.S. military operations in the Caribbean, Central America and South America.