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SecDef visits Fla. for change atop SOUTHCOM

Nov. 19, 2012 - 07:08PM   |   Last Updated: Nov. 19, 2012 - 07:08PM  |  
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, left, Gen. Martin Dempsey, Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman , and Gen. John F. Kelly laugh as Kelly took charge of Southern Command's blackberry during a leadership change at SOUTHCOM headquarters in Miami, on Nov. 19.
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, left, Gen. Martin Dempsey, Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman , and Gen. John F. Kelly laugh as Kelly took charge of Southern Command's blackberry during a leadership change at SOUTHCOM headquarters in Miami, on Nov. 19. (The Associated Press)
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MIAMI — Defense Secretary Leon Panetta stopped in South Florida to take part in a leadership change at U.S. Southern Command headquarters.

Panetta's top military advisor Marine Lt. Gen. John F. Kelly officially took over Monday at Miami-based SOUTHCOM. He replaces Air Force Gen. Douglas Fraser, who is retiring from the military. Kelly is being promoted to a four-star general as he takes command.

Also appearing at the ceremony was the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Army Gen. Martin Dempsey. The afternoon ceremony featured a flyover by F-16 fighter jets stationed at nearby Homestead Air Reserve Base.

Panetta took no questions from the media.

SOUTHCOM oversees U.S. military interests and operations in Central and South America and the Caribbean.

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