U.S. Southern Command welcomes new commander at ceremony Thursday

Adm. Kurt Tidd replaces Gen. John Kelly

A formal change of command ceremony was held Thursday in Doral as the current commander of the U.S. Southern Command retired.

Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter attended the ceremony.

On behalf of the Department of Defense, he highlighted the accomplishments of SOUTHCOM over the past three years under Gen. John Kelly's leadership, which included interdicting a large amount of cocaine coming from Latin America and maintaining operations at Guantanamo Bay.

The secretary went on to assure the 1,200 military and civilian personnel assigned to SOUTHCOM's headquarters in Doral that they are in the good hands of Adm. Kurt Tidd.

The admiral comes to SOUTHCOM from the Pentagon, where he was assistant to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

"It's a distinct privilege and pleasure to be able to lead this wonderful organization," Tidd said.

The ceremony began with another military tradition: honoring the wives of the commanders.

First, a bouquet of flowers in full bloom was presented to Kelly's daughter, who attended in place of his wife, for her dedication and sacrifice over the past three years.

A bouquet of budded flowers was then handed to Tidd's wife for all she will do while her husband is the acting commander.

Headquartered in Doral, the Southern Command is responsible for any U.S. military functions that go on in Latin and Central America and the Caribbean.

Kelly worked as commander of the Southern Command for three years, but has been in the military for four decades.