CHANGE OF COMMAND CEREMONY -- U.S. Special Operations Command-Central (SOCCENT) held a change of command ceremony at the MacDill AFB headquarters on July 20, 2020. Rear Adm. H. Wyman Howard III (not pictured) relinquished command to Rear Adm. Frank Mitchell Bradley (right) Monday during a ceremony in front of senior leaders, service members, family, and other members of the community. Due to COVIS-19 concerns, the majority of the audience participated virtually. -- MASTER SGT. BARRY LOO | U.S. AIR FORCE PHOTO RELEASE
CHANGE OF COMMAND CEREMONY -- U.S. Special Operations Command-Central (SOCCENT) held a change of command ceremony at the MacDill AFB headquarters on July 20, 2020. Rear Adm. H. Wyman Howard III (not pictured) relinquished command to Rear Adm. Frank Mitchell Bradley (right) Monday during a ceremony in front of senior leaders, service members, family, and other members of the community. Due to COVIS-19 concerns, the majority of the audience participated virtually. -- MASTER SGT. BARRY LOO | U.S. AIR FORCE PHOTO RELEASE

Rear Admiral Frank Mitchell Bradley assumed command of the U.S. Special Operations Command Central (SOCCENT) on Monday, July 20, 2020.

Bradley succeeded Rear Admiral H. Wyman Howard III, during a virtual ceremony held at MacDill Air Force Base near Tampa, Florida, in front of senior leaders, family and community members.

Bradley, a 1987 graduate of Eldorado High School and a 1991 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, recently received his second star.

In a telephone interview on Monday, August 17th, Bradley credited his upbringing in Eldorado with helping prepare him for the life he chose, first in the U.S. Naval Academy, then as a naval officer.

“Growing up in our little town there, you learn the importance of patriotism, service before self and integrity pretty early on and its reinforced strongly through the things you do, right up from elementary to middle school and through high school,” Bradley said. “Those are the three kind of principal things the Naval Academy was all about.”

Bradley went on to say that he was surrounded by mentors growing up and mentioned his father, Frank M. “Pancho” Bradley and his uncles, all of whom served in the Navy in World War II, as well as his cousin, Ray Lewis Ballew, who served in the Navy during the Vietnam War.

Bradley said others in Eldorado, including a former football coach, influenced him and helped prepare him for the rigors that awaited him at the Naval Academy, and the SEAL training that followed.

“And, I was probably made ready for it by the execution of Larry Mitchel’s two-a-day practices. And, by some of the things I learned working for various folks on the ranches around there. I learned about what discipline means, and what doing the job right the first time means,” Bradley said.

Bradley noted that he is not the first Navy admiral that Eldorado produced and mentioned Rear Admiral Stephanie Keck, daughter of Ken and Linda Thomas, who retired in 2019 after an incredible career.

“We grew up on the same block and I call her Eldorado’s first admiral,” Bradley said. “We’ve worked together several times through our careers and I’m very proud of the things that she’s been able to do.”

Bradley’s change of command ceremony was presided over by U.S. Marine Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr., Commanding General, United States Central Command. Both he and U.S. Army Gen. Richard D. Clarke Jr., Commanding General, United States Special Operations Command, provided remarks during the ceremony, as did the outgoing commander, Rear Admiral Howard.

“It is a bittersweet day as I say goodbye to an exceptional team; but I am comforted knowing Rear Admiral Bradley will assume command and continue to lead SOCCENT in distinctive ways that contribute to Central Command and the Nation and ensure the Spartan family is mission ready,” said Howard

Bradley began his naval career as Naval Special Warfare (SEAL) Officer after completing Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL Class 179 in 1992.
He has commanded at all levels of special operations, including the commander of Naval Special Warfare Development Group. He has multiple tours in command of joint task forces, and was among the first to deploy into Afghanistan following the attacks of September 11, 2001, and has deployed consistently since.

Additionally, he has served with SEAL Team FOUR, SEAL Delivery Vehicle Team TWO and the Italian Incursori (Italian SEALs) as an international exchange officer.

Bradley’s most recent assignment was as assistant commander, Joint Special Operations Command, Fort Bragg, NC from 2018 – 2020.

“I’m humbled to join your ranks and I look forward to the challenges we’ll face together,” said Bradley.

SOCCENT is responsible for the planning, preparation and command and control of all theater special operations forces in the U.S. Central Command’s area of responsibility, a region that covers 20 nations in the Middle East, Central and South Asia, and the strategic waterways that surround them.

“I believe you have postured yourself to be ready for the next set of inflection points we are about to navigate,” Bradley said to the men and women under his command. “It will be up to us, as a team, to move out smartly remaining anticipatory and leading with vision by enabling our partners to act, empowering our command structure to stay one step ahead of our adversaries and growing as we evolve to compete with adversaries in new and irregular ways.”

The Admiral also had some advice for future leaders, even those in Eldorado.

When asked Monday what he would say to an Eldorado High School junior or senior who might be considering a military career, Bradley said, “I think what I would tell them up front is that the mentorship and the lessons that they’ve learned in Schleicher County are valuable beyond what they probably appreciate. They have grown up in a community that has cared for them and has instilled in them that sense of patriotism and integrity, and they’ve armed them with a set of skills that not everybody in the world has. Many of them know in their hearts that they want to do good in the world. The rest of them, they may not know it, but it’ll come to them in most cases that there are a myriad of ways to serve, and the military is not the only way,”

“The people coming out of our little community have advantages that others don’t have and they should put them to good use. Do good for other people, and you can do that in a lot of ways,” Bradley said. “But, one way that is certainly available to them is service through the military. There is a thirst and a hunger for the kind of person that comes out of Eldorado to serve in our military – in any of the branches. And I guess I’d tell them, as they look at the world and they recognize how challenging the world can be and how complex some of the problems are, remember that it takes good people to help solve those complex challenging problems and to help those people that are out there that are in need of help.”

Turning his thoughts back to his own time in Eldorado Bradley concluded by saying, “One thing that I learned from Coach Mitchel back in the day – If it’s to be, it’s up to me. That’s what empowers us as a team to be able to go forward and do some pretty great things...If you think about it from that angle – if it’s to be, it’s up to me – you won’t be wrong.”

Rear Admiral Mitchell Bradley and his wife Katherine have four children including daughter Mary Kate, sons Henry and James, and son Frank, who followed in his father’s footsteps and recently graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy.