General Frank McKenzie, USMC, Commander, United States Central Command

General Frank McKenzie, USMC

Commander, United States Central Command

Kenneth Franklin “Frank” McKenzie, Jr., was born in 1957 in Birmingham, Alabama. He was commissioned through the Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps at The Citadel. He earned a Master’s degree in History from the National Defense University, and served as a senior military fellow at the school’s Institute for National Strategic Studies.

As an infantry officer, his assignments included being the commanding officer of the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit, which he led on deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. He served as Military Secretary to two Marine Corps Commandants.

He was selected by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to serve as director of a transition team overseeing the smooth transition of military forces for incoming President Barack Obama. He returned to Afghanistan, serving as Assistant Deputy Chief of Staff for Stability under the International Security Assistance Force.

McKenzie assumed his role as Commander of the United States Central Command in March 2019.

In the News…

General Frank McKenzie, U.S. Central Commander, has many changes in his area of responsibility, which stretches from Israel to Afghanistan and everything in between. These include wars in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, and the conflict that continues in Afghanistan. But the biggest problem he sees does not have a military solution.

He has concerns about a new generation of ISIS extremists in the region, warning that 100,000 ISIS fighters now in detention camps in Syria, along with more than 60,000 refugees displaced by war, are a “ticking time bomb” that, if not addressed, will spawn a new crop of terrorists.

“Unless the international community finds a way to repatriate, reintegrate into home communities, and support locally grown reconciliation programs, we will bear witness to the indoctrination of the next generation of ISIS as these children become radicalized,” General McKenzie cautioned. “Failing to address this now means ISIS will never be truly defeated, as the ideology will continue well into the future.”

He also stated that both Russia and China are taking advantage of the perception that the U.S. has been pulling back from the region.

“I suspect Russia will continue to challenge U.S. presence as opportunities present themselves, positioning itself as an alternative to the West by trying to mediate regional conflicts, selling arms without end-user restrictions, offering military expertise, and participating in regional and multilateral organizations and military exercises,” he said.

General McKenzie continued, “China’s current interests in the region are predominantly economic.” The general added, “Russia and China leverage their proximity to the region, historical relations, and a perceived decline in U.S. engagement to establish and strengthen opportunistic relationships.

He also discussed Yemen, Afghanistan, and the Taliban, saying all matters are “under review” and he would not want to get ahead of those policies.


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