Marc Ambinder reports that Vice Admiral William McRaven will be promoted after a distinguished tenure as boss of Joint Special Operations Command.
That means a fourth star for the water-walking Navy SEAL, who has overseen successful special forces campaigns in both Iraq and Afghanistan. In military circles, McRaven is best known for establishing a terrorist "targeting center" under the JSOC umbrella, which fuses civilian experts and intelligence officials with the special forces community. The war room's creation cut the bureaucratic red tape between trackers and hunters, exponentially upping operations and enemy kills. In short, McRaven morphed terrorist tracking from a passive to aggressive endeavor.
So now that he's leaving JSOC in the spring, what's next for the storied frogman?
Four-star command billets, the pinnacle of a military career, are extremely limited. Ambinder points to the obvious choice, Special Operations Command, where Admiral Eric Olson is set to depart around the same time as McRaven's promotion.
But there's a dark horse candidate for that job. Admiral Gary Roughead is wrapping up his tenure as Chief of Naval Operations this spring. Secretary Gates, reported to be a big fan of McRaven's work, is known for shaking up the military hierarchy with unconventional leadership appointments. Gates dissolved the reigning "fighter mafia" in the US Air Force by appointing another special forces veteran, General Norton Schwartz, to Chief of Staff in 2008. And he named General James Amos, an attack pilot, as the first aviator to serve as Commandant of the Marine Corps.
Special Operations Command is the most probable destination for McRaven. But it should be noted that the timing is right and the conditions favorable for the first SEAL Chief of Naval of Operations.