SOUTHCOM: From Doral, Gen. John Kelly Commands Pentagon Operations in Latin America

Nov 20, 2012

The changing of command ceremony drew hundreds of people, including top military brass.
Credit Arianna Prothero

The United States Southern Command has a new boss. 

SOUTHCOM is the Pentagon's headquarters in Doral which oversees military operations in the Caribbean and Latin America.

The changing of command ceremony drew hundreds of people, including Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey and Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta.

The outgoing commander used to live in Latin America and dealt with one of the biggest crises of the last decade in the Caribbean.

Panetta said General Douglass Fraser was tested soon after taking over SOUTHCOM when the 2010 Earthquake leveled parts of Haiti.

"They responded immediately with Operation Unified Response,” he said. “The largest humanitarian assistance and disaster relief mission this command has ever undertaken."

But, it was General Fraser's day. He took a moment on the podium to remember his tenure at SOUTHCOM. Fraser used to live in Bogota and he said he felt his career had come full circle.

"Forty-one years ago I graduated high school in Columbia and entered the Air Force Academy three weeks later,” said Fraser. “Unbelievably, roughly four weeks ago, I made my last official visit to Columbia and now finish my military career."

U.S. Marine Corps Lt. Gen. John Kelly grew up in Boston, MA.
Credit Arianna Prothero

General John Kelly now takes charge of Southern Command. Prior to coming to South Florida, Kelly was a Senior Military Advisor to the Secretary of Defense. Kelly said it's a privilege to follow Fraser.

"I will take his program and do the best I can to continue the partnership, growth with our friends throughout the region,” he said. “And of course take care of SOUTHCOM, it's families, and very much look forward to getting involved in the community here in Miami."

SOUTHCOM employs almost 1,600 permanently assigned military and civilian personnel in Doral.