Votel in 2016
|Born||February 14, 1958|
Saint Paul, Minnesota, United States
|Service/||United States Army|
|Years of service||1980–2019|
|Commands held||United States Central Command|
United States Special Operations Command
Joint Special Operations Command
Combined Joint Task Force 82
Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization
75th Ranger Regiment
2nd Battalion, 22nd Infantry, 10th Mountain Division
|Battles/wars||War in Afghanistan|
|Awards||Defense Distinguished Service Medal (3)|
Army Distinguished Service Medal
Defense Superior Service Medal (3)
Legion of Merit (2)
Bronze Star Medal (4)
|Other work||President and CEO of Business Executives for National Security|
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. Before that, he served as commander of the United States Special Operations Command.
General Votel today serves as President and CEO of Business Executives for National Security (BENS) – a national, nonprofit composed of senior business and industry executives who volunteer their time and expertise to assist the U.S. national security community.
Early life and education
Votel's 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. 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, New York, and afterward, he commanded the 1st Ranger Battalion. Later he commanded the 75th Ranger Regiment, during Operation Enduring Freedom. On 19 October 2001, Votel led 200 Rangers from 3rd Battalion, who parachuted towards an airfield south of Kandahar, and attacked several Taliban targets.
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. He next served as the Commanding General of the Joint Special Operations Command.
USSOCOM and USCENTCOM commander
On June 24, 2014, Votel was nominated by President Barack Obama to succeed Admiral William H. McRaven as the 10th Commander of United States Special Operations Command. The appointment was confirmed by Congress in July, and the change of command took place on August 28. Votel became the commander of United States Central Command (USCENTCOM) on March 30, 2016. Lieutenant General Raymond A. Thomas replaced Votel as commander of Joint Special Operations Command.
On April 23, 2018, Votel 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, and other senior defense officials.
As CENTCOM commander, Votel oversaw the United States' continued War on Terrorism in the Middle East, particularly the Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve's fight against the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant terror organization, which rose to prominence in 2014. The fight against the group saw CENTCOM become more involved in the Syrian civil war and Iraqi Civil War.
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 General Kenneth McKenzie, USMC.
Turkey coup attempt
Continuing his long, distinguished career of service and senior leadership, General Votel today serves as President and CEO of Business Executives for National Security (BENS) – a national, nonprofit composed of senior business and industry executives who volunteer their time and expertise to assist the U.S. national security community.
General Votel joined BENS in January 2020 following a 39-year military career where he commanded special operations and conventional forces at every level; last serving as the Commander of U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) where he was responsible for U.S. and coalition military operations in the Middle East, Levant, and Central and South Asia. General Votel's career included combat in Panama, Afghanistan, and Iraq. And he led the 79-member coalition that successfully liberated Iraq and Syria from the Islamic State Caliphate. General Votel preceded his assignment at CENTCOM with service as the Commander of U.S. Special Operations Command and the Joint Special Operations Command.
Awards and decorations
|Combat Infantryman Badge with Star (denoting 2nd award)|
|Master Parachutist Badge with 2 Combat Jump Devices|
|Egyptian Parachutist Badge|
|Army Staff Identification Badge|
|United States Central Command Badge|
|75th Ranger Regiment Combat Service Identification Badge|
|75th Ranger Regiment Distinctive Unit Insignia|
|8 Overseas Service Bars|
- Tara Copp (August 21, 2018). "New CENTCOM, SOCOM leadership named". Military Times. Retrieved March 28, 2019.
- "NOMINATIONS BEFORE THE SENATE ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE, SECOND SESSION, 113TH CONGRESS" (PDF). Washington, DC: Superintendent of Documents. 2015. pp. 789–793.
- , U.S. Department of Defense, dated 2014.
- Dan Lamothe, The swift, quiet rise of Lt. Gen. Joseph Votel, Special Operations commander, The Washington Post, June 25, 2014.
- Gal Perl Finkel, Win the close fight, The Jerusalem Post, March 21, 2017.
- Votel to succeed McRaven as SOCOM commander at MacDill, Tampa Bay Times, by Zack Peterson, 24 July 2014, last accessed 25 July 2014
- "Commander of US troops in Syria makes unannounced first visit to Israel". Times of Israel.
- "US Marine Corps General McKenzie replaces retiring Votel as CENTCOM Commander". 29 March 2019. Retrieved 31 March 2019.
- "Turkey's Erdoğan to drop lawsuits against people who insulted him". BBC News. 29 July 2016.
- Lake, Eli (2016-07-28). "America's Friends Get Arrested in Turkey's Post-Coup Purges". Bloomberg View.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Joseph L. Votel.|
| Commander of the 75th Ranger Regiment
James C. Nixon
William H. McRaven
| Commander of Joint Special Operations Command
Raymond A. Thomas III
| Commander of United States Special Operations Command|
Lloyd J. Austin III
| Commander of United States Central Command
Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr.