Major General Austin “Scott” Miller is likely to be the next head of the U.S. military’s secretive Joint Special Operations Command, according to sources close to the matter.
Miller would replace Fort Bragg-based Army Lt. Gen. Raymond Thomas III, who is slotted to lead Special Operations Command out of MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Fla in the coming months.
A decorated Special Operations soldier, Miller is currently the commanding general of the U.S. Army Maneuver Center of Excellence and of Fort Benning, Ga. His most recent billets have pushed him into the public light as the Army’s Ranger School, which falls under his watch, recently graduated the first three women in the storied course’s history.
With Miller’s ascension to JSOC, his public persona would likely fade—and quickly.
As the commander of JSOC, a section of the U.S. military often relegated to the shadows, Miller would oversee the deployment of commandos called the National Mission Force and its supporting assets such as aircraft and drones in search of terrorists around the globe. The National Mission Force is a catch-all term for units like SEAL Team Six (also known as DEVGRU) and the Army’s Delta Force–a unit that is still not acknowledged publicly. Miller declined to comment for this article.
An infantry officer by trade, Miller graduated West Point in 1983 and went on to serve in a variety of units such as the 82nd Airborne division, the 2nd Infantry Division, the 75th Ranger Regiment and the Army’s Special Operations Command.
Thomas, Miller’s predecessor at JSOC, had a similar background–serving in the Rangers as well as Delta, albeit Thomas never commanded a traditional infantry battalion. This career path is in keeping with the background of former JSOC commanders (Vice Adm. William H. McRaven not withstanding) including Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, who led the unit from 2003 to 2008–the longest stretch in the command’s history.
In 1993, as a captain, he led a contingent of the Army’s elite Delta Force in the Battle of Mogadishu, a day-long running gun battle famously recounted in Mark Bowden’s book, Black Hawk Down. For his actions during the battle Miller was awarded a Bronze Star with a V (for valor) distinguishing device.
Aside from his deployment to Somalia, Miller has combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan and has supported ‘contingency’ operations in Bosnia and Latin America, according an official Army bio. His staff assignments include the Deputy Director of Special Operations and he was in charge of all special operations in Afghanistan from June 2013 to June 2014.
According to “Relentless Strike,” a book that details JSOC’s history, Miller helmed Delta Force during some of its bloodiest years in Iraq, when the elite unit oriented its operations extensively throughout the restive Anbar province.
His other personal awards include the Purple Heart, the Combat Infantryman’s Badge (with a star) and the Expert Infantryman Badge.
As Gen. John F. Campbell prepares to step down as head of U.S. and allied forces in Afghanistan in coming months, a veteran of the Afghanistan campaign is expected to be named to the top military job there. A U.S. defense official, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations, said that Lt. Gen. John W. “Mick” Nicholson Jr, who currently heads NATO’s Allied Land Command, based out of Izmir, Turkey, would likely be named to replace Campbell. Nicholson, who also commanded the 82nd Airborne Division, spent more than three years with the international command in Afghanistan from 2006 to 2012.
As the new Afghanistan commander, he will face a host of challenges including a resurgent Taliban and a local military struggling to keep insurgent actions in check.
Wesley Morgan and Greg Jaffe contributed to this report