Defense Secretary Ashton Carter put MarFarland in charge of the coalition last month and announced the appointment on Friday. The announcement comes after much criticism that the Obama administration’s counter-ISIS campaign lacked coordinated leadership as it stretched across multiple agencies, NationalJournal.com reports.
“Rather than three generals responsible for different aspects of the campaign, as had been the case, I have empowered Lt. Gen. MacFarland as the single commander of counter-ISIL activities in both Iraq and Syria,” Carter said. “His efforts will be critical in the coming months as we continue to provide support for capable partners fighting on the front lines.”
MacFarland replaces Lt. Gen. James Terry, who will continue serving as the head of U.S. Army Central, or USARCENT, which commands Army forces in the Middle East.
MacFarland, a West Point graduate from Upstate New York, is also the commanding general of IIICorps and Fort Hood in Texas, a position he holds concurrent to his new position as commander for the Combined Joint Task Force for Operation Inherent Resolve.
He is best known for his efforts to secure the city of Ramadi in 2007 and foster the Sunni Awakening.
“I was given very broad guidance,” MacFarland told USA Today in 2007. “Fix Ramadi, but don’t destroy it. Don’t do a Fallujah.”
As a colonel, MacFarland established 18 combat outposts in and around Ramadi. He then created partnerships with various Sunni tribal sheiks, resulting in an alliance of more than 50 sheiks by the time his brigade left Iraq, and eventually reaching more than 200 sheiks.
Ramadi fell to ISIS earlier this year.