WASHINGTON — Senators approved a lengthy slate of nominations in the waning hours of work before their Fourth of July break, including a new commander for U.S. efforts in Afghanistan, a new head of Pacific Air Forces and a new ambassador for South Korea.
The moves came via voice vote without unanimous support. All of the nominees had received positive reviews from chamber officials in recent weeks.
Army Gen. Austin Scott Miller, the 17th commander to oversee the American and NATO mission in Afghanistan, will succeed Army Gen. John Nicholson in that role and received his fourth star as part of the confirmation process.
Miller was previous the head of Joint Special Operations Command and served as the commander of the special operations in Afghanistan in from June 2013 to June 2014. His combat experience also includes missions in Somalia, Bosnia and Iraq.
Army Lt. Gen. Austin Miller is expected to be easily confirmed to oversee the mission despite senators' dissatisfaction with the ongoing war.
Earlier this month, Miller told members of the Senate Armed Services Committee that he sees progress in the ongoing fight in Afghanistan, but acknowledged that “I can’t guarantee you a timeline or an end date” to U.S. military efforts there.
Gen. Charles Brown Jr., who led the air war against the Islamic State before becoming the deputy commander for U.S. Central Command, will serve as the next commander of Pacific Air Forces and received his fourth star with the promotion.
Brown has been deputy commander of U.S. Central Command for the past two years and previously served as the head of Air Forces Central Command. He will succeed Gen. Terrence O’Shaughnessy, who took over U.S. Northern Command earlier this year.
Harry Harris, former Navy admiral and commander of U.S. Pacific forces, was named the new South Korean ambassador as part of a block of five diplomatic appointments.
Harris had been President Donald Trump’s pick to take over the ambassador role in Australia, but saw his assignment shifted this spring amid a growing strategic focus on the Korean Peninsula.
The Senate is scheduled to return from their mid-summer break on July 9. Approving the nominations Thursday allows those appointees to take their office sometime in the next week, instead of waiting until mid-July or possibly later for congressional action.