Special Operations Command AFRICA welcomes new commander

Martin Greeson Incoming SOCAFRICA commander Army Brig. Gen. James B. Linder (left) addresses the audience during a change of command ceremony June 7 at Kelley Barracks. Gen. David M. Rodriguez (center) presided over the ceremony in which Rear Adm. Brian L. Losey (right) relinquished his command.

Martin Greeson
Incoming SOCAFRICA commander Army Brig. Gen. James B. Linder (left) addresses the audience during a change of command ceremony June 7 at Kelley Barracks. Gen. David M. Rodriguez (center) presided over the ceremony in which Rear Adm. Brian L. Losey (right) relinquished his command.

Rear Adm. Brian L. Losey relinquished command of Special Operations Command Africa to U.S. Army Brig. Gen. James B. Linder during a change of command ceremony held June 7 at Kelley Barracks.

SOCAFRICA, a subordinate unified command of U.S. Special Operations Command operationally controlled by U.S. Africa Command, exercises operational control of special operations forces within the 53 countries of AFRICOM’s area of responsibility.Gen. David M. Rodriguez, who took the helm of AFRICOM in April, presided over the ceremony held in the Kelley Fitness Center gymnasium.
Rodriguez said special operations forces play a unique and demanding role and highlighted the 2012 raid that freed American Jessica Buchanan and her Dutch colleague Paul Thisted, aid workers who were held hostage in Somalia for four months.

The importance of special operations in Africa will continue to grow as “an increasingly diffuse and adaptable” al-Qaida network spreads, according to Rodriguez.

Under Losey’s leadership, “Special Operations Command Africa made great progress in deepening relationships with Africa and European partners,building partner defense capabilities, strengthening relationships with U.S. country teams, and preparing to respond to crisis,” Rodriguez said.

Rodriguez said there was no one better to replace Losey than Linder.

“His knowledge and experience make him the right person to lead Special Operations Command Africa into the future, and I know he is ready to hit the ground running,” he added.

Losey began his remarks acknowledging the American lives lost in 2012 on the African continent. Ambassador Chris Stevens, Information Officer Sean Smith, and two embassy security personnel, Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods, both former Navy SEALs, were killed when the U.S. compound and annex in Benghazi, Libya, was attacked in September. He also recognized Capt. Daniel H. Utley, Sgt. 1st Class Marciano E. Myrthil and Master Sgt. Trevor J. Bast, who died in Mali last April after their vehicle crashed.

Without notes, Losey talked at length of SOCAFRICA’s overall mission, the complexity of Africa, the operating environment and SOCAFRICA’s role in Operation Observant Compass in central Africa to counter the Lord’s Resistance Army.

He extended his thanks to AFRICOM, SOCAFRICA’s partner-nations and the men and women of SOCAFRICA for their support.

“I leave today with mixed emotions … joy to have had the absolute privilege and honor of working with each and every one of you, and happiness that I am turning it over to Brig. Gen. Linder,” Losey said.

He added that he and Linder are friends and colleagues who have “crisscrossed paths all over the globe for the past 20 years.”

Under Linder, Losey said “there will be no change in focus, no change in energy, but Jim has a wonderful sense of humor, and there will be more laughter, I suspect.”

Linder, whose most recent assignment was as the deputy J3 for AFRICOM, did not disappoint Losey.

Early in his remarks, Linder thanked Rodriguez for the opportunity to serve as the theater special operations commander, adding, “I can’t promise you a smooth ride, but I can promise you a ride you won’t forget.”

He pledged that SOCAFRICA will continue to build partner special operations forces among the African nations at risk for violent extremist activity.

“In the end, it will be less about what we do for Africans, and more about what Africans can do for themselves,” Linder said.  Losey will now take command of the U.S. Naval Special Warfare Command in San Diego, Calif.