The president’s choice is Army Gen. Joseph Votel, commander of U.S. Special Operations Command, to succeed Army Gen. Lloyd Austin.
The unusual choice aligns with Obama’s heavy reliance on special operations forces in the intensifying war against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, as well as the prominent role that the commandos are playing in Afghanistan a year after the U.S. combat role there officially came to an end.
Votel is a former commander of the 75th Ranger Regiment and a veteran of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. He headed the secretive Joint Special Operations Command before becoming commander of Special Operations Command in 2014.
Israeli Newspaper Haaretz reported, that Votel has been in steady contact with Israeli commanders as well as weapons researchers. In 2005 Votel sent an urgent request to the Israeli military for a “top-secret item” developed by Israel against IEDs.
Votel was also said to have visited Israel Army units that deal with IEDs. They included units from the Paratrooper Brigade, Engineering Corps and Logistics and Technology Directorate.