- Associated Press - Friday, March 18, 2016

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Senate has confirmed President Barack Obama’s choices to lead two of the military’s most important warfighting commands.

Senators late Thursday approved the nominations of Army Gen. Joseph Votel to run U.S. Central Command and Gen. Tony Thomas to take over as the top officer at U.S. Special Operations Command. Both commands are headquartered at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Florida.

At Central Command, Votel will oversee U.S. military operations in Syria, Iraq and 18 other countries. He succeeds Army Gen. Lloyd Austin, who is retiring.

Thomas, who also received a fourth star, replaces Votel at Special Operations Command. He had been serving as commander of the secretive Joint Special Operations Command at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

Votel and Thomas both graduated in 1980 from the U.S. Military Academy.

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