Biden names Gen Kurilla as new US Centcom chief

By: AFP
Published: 07:55 AM, 8 Jan, 2022
Biden names Gen Kurilla as new US Centcom chief
Caption: File photo.
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President Joe Biden is nominating Army Lt. Gen. Michael Kurilla to lead the US Central Command, which oversees military operations in the Middle East, the Pentagon announced Friday.

If confirmed by the Senate, General Kurilla will succeed Marine General Kenneth McKenzie at the head of Centcom, which oversees military operations in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan and Yemen. 

According to his official biography, Kurilla, 55, currently leads the 18th Airborne Corps, which groups the majority of the United States Army's response forces at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. 

A West Point graduate, he fought in Kosovo, Afghanistan and Iraq, where he was seriously wounded by gunshot during an assault on Mosul in 2005. Kurilla also held responsibilities at the General Staff of the United States Army and commanded the prestigious 82nd Parachute Division, known for having participated in the Normandy landings in 1944.

The US army is organized in geographic commands like Africom for Africa or Eucom for Europe, but also by issues like the strategic command (Stratcom), in charge of the nuclear armament of the country, or Spacecom, which is in charge of space.

Washington reaffirms support to Lithuania

The Biden administration on Friday again signaled US support for the European Union and Lithuania against China, which is accused of blocking Lithuanian exports in protest over the Baltic country's diplomatic ties with Taiwan.

US Trade Representative Katherine Tai today spoke with European Commission Executive Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis "and expressed the United States' strong support for the EU and for Lithuania in the face of economic coercion from the People's Republic of China (PRC)," a statement from Tai's office said. 

Lithuania, one of the smallest countries in the European Union, made waves in July when it allowed Taiwan to open a diplomatic outpost in Vilnius.

The move outraged Beijing, which does not recognize Taiwan as a state and considers the island a rebellious territory of the mainland. 

China began to limit its diplomatic and economic ties with Lithuania in retaliation. 

"Ambassador Tai emphasized the importance of working with the European Union and its member states to address coercive diplomatic and economic behavior through various avenues, including the US-EU Trade and Technology Council," Tai's office said.

Tai already spoke with Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis by telephone Wednesday, reiterating Washington's support for his country.

AFP

Agence France-Presse is an international news agency.