U.S. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter made a stop at Tampa's MacDill Air Force Base Thursday to plot strategy in the fight against ISIL, also known as the Islamic State.
While here, Cater put in a good word for U.S. Central Command Commander Army Gen. Lloyd Austin and praise for the man he hopes will replace him.
“I’m supremely confident the man the president will nominate to take Gen. Austin’s place when his work here at CENTCOM is completed - very confident in that man - and that man is Gen. Joe Votel,” Carter said. “(Votel) has done a superb job as the commander of U.S. Special Operations Command.”
Votel and SOCOM are also based at MacDill AFB.
Austin has led CENTCOM since 2013. The CENTCOM commander added that he was thankful that 10 American sailors detained by Iran this week are now free. But he didn't have much else to add when more details will be released.
“In order to get that information, we do need to talk to or debrief all 10 sailors and then layout the sequence of events as things transpired,” Austin said. “We’ll have a much better, much clearer picture once we’ve done that. It would be ill advised for us to publish a timeline prior to us having completed that process.”
Videos and images of the U.S. sailors on their knees with their hands tied has some lawmakers accusing Iran of violating the Geneva Conventions by distributing those videos.
The U.S. State Department said yesterday the Conventions don't apply because Iran and the U.S. are not at war.
The Obama Administration has downplayed criticism that the Iran Nuclear Accord has emboldened Iran to conduct aggressive actions against the U.S.