Brigadier General James B. Linder assumed command of U.S. Special Operations Command Africa (SOCAFRICA) from Rear Admiral Brian L. Losey during a change of command ceremony June 7 at the Kelley Barracks gymnasium.
The presiding official for the ceremony was General David Rodriguez, commanding officer, U.S. Africa Command, who gave brief remarks before handing the floor over to the guests of honor.
Rodriguez described the unique and demanding role that Special Operations Forces play, highlighting the 2012 raid that freed American Jessica Buchanan and her Dutch colleague Paul Thisted who had been held hostage in Somalia for four months.
Rodriguez added that he has no doubt that Linder is the right person to lead the SOCAFRICA team to tackle the challenges that lie ahead.
“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,” said Rodriguez.
SOCAFRICA’s primary focus is to increase partner nation force capability to protect civilians from current and emerging threats.
“In the end, it will be less about what we do for Africans, and more about what Africans can do for themselves,” Linder said.
Linder recalled a visit by a congressman to AFRICOM who asked why security in Africa is so important.
“It’s in our national interest – and it’s in the best interest of our global community,” said Brig. Gen. Linder. “To leave the continent unattended, to not work alongside our African partners to empower them to manage their security challenges, would leave them vulnerable as a safe haven and a breeding ground for a brutal enemy that’s global in scope, ruthless in purpose, and insidious in method.”
Having known each other for many years, Linder had kind words for his friend, Losey, as he moves on to face other challenges.
“Brian Losey, my friend, you have accomplished much. It is your leadership that brought this formation the valued reputation we enjoy,” said Linder. “You led this command thru an unprecedented time in history, and you accomplish it with a grace and poise that has left an indelible mark. Your legacy of leadership, integrity and personal courage will endure long after you and I no longer walk this earth.”
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,” said Rodriguez.
Committing to strengthen the already close ties SOCAFRICA has with numerous African militaries, Linder stated that he will carry out the objectives of Gen. Rodriguez in deterring and defeating transnational threats.
“This Special Operations Command will continue to find success beside our friends, allies and interagency partners to eliminate the environment and safe havens where violent extremist grow and flourish. Together we’ll reduce the local “drivers” of these extremist and their terrorist propaganda,” Linder said.
Linder arrived from his last assignment as the deputy J3 of AFRICOM, while Losey departs for his next assignment as Commander of the Naval Special Warfare Group in Coronado, California.