John F. Mulholland Jr. is currently a lieutenant general in the United States Army, commanding the Army Special Operations Command. Prior to that assignment, he commanded the overt Special Operations component command of United States Central Command, and directly commanded the 5th Special Forces Group in combat in Afghanistan and Iraq.
He was born in Clovis, N.M., but grew up in Bethesda, Md. He graduated with a BA in history from Furman University, Greenville, S.C., in 1978, where he was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant of Infantry. His first posts were with both light and mechanized infantry, 193rd Infantry Brigade in the former Panama Canal Zone where he served as a rifle platoon leader, weapons platoon leader and company executive office in both 4th BN (Mech), 20th Infantry (Sykes Regulars) and Co. A (ABN), 3rd BN, 5th Infantry.
As a captain, he passed the Special Forces Qualification Course. Upon graduation in September 1983, and joined the 5th Special Forces Group (ABN). He has commanded at the Operational Detchment A (ODA), Company, Battalion/Squadron and Group levels within Special Forces. His other other special operations assignments including Special Operations Command South (Panama) as well as the operations officer at Delta Force
Then-Colonel Mulholland commanded Joint Special Operations Task Force-North (TF Dagger) in the opening days of Operation Enduring Freedom and Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force-West (TF Dagger) in the initial campaign of Operation Iraqi Freedom. He subsequently served as the Chief, Office of Military Cooperation-Kuwait, as Commanding General, U.S. Army Special Forces Command and as Deputy Commanding General, Joint Special Operations Command.
Lt. Gen. Mulholland earned a MMAS (History) while attending the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College and a Master of Science in National Security Strategy from the National War College. His military awards and decorations include the Distinguished Superior Service Medal and the Legion of Merit.
In the Afghanistan War (2001-), the "white" and acknowledged military special forces teams came from the 5th Group. They were in the classic unconventional warfare Special Forces role of working directly with native forces; it was designated Task Force DAGGER, under Mulholland. It waited at the K-2 base in Uzbekistan; for political reasons, Uzbekistan announced that it was assisting in humanitarian assistance and combat search and rescue.
5th Group soldiers would follow the lines of battle. They were attached to Hamid Karzai's unit establishing his credibility in the pursuit of the Taliban after Kabul fell. They were present at the Battle of Tora Bora, although there was some friction in role between them and the JSOC task force.
5SFG's role, and admittedly training, were much more in special reconnaissance than direct action. Mulholland's role has been somewhat controversial, although many believe he properly kept his troops within their capabilities and left even more specialized missions to even more specialized troops from Joint Special Operations Command
He commanded one of the two Special Forces Group, still the 5th, in the Iraq War.
- Lt. Gen. John F. Mulholland Jr., Commanding General, U.S. Army Special Operations Command