Navy Rear Admiral Mark Fedor, right, assumes command of JIATF-South from Rear Admiral Douglas Fears at a July 15 ceremony at the College of the Florida Keys. MANDY MILES/Keys Weekly

This military change-of-command ceremony couldn’t occur at the group’s headquarters. 

Navy Rear Admiral Mark Fedor took command of Joint Interagency Task Force, or JIATF-South, from Rear Admiral Douglas Fears on July 15, but the ceremony didn’t occur at the top-secret JIATF-South headquarters in downtown Key West.

This ceremony was a bit different from those that occurred in May, when Navy Capt. Beth Regoli became commander of Naval Air Station Key West, and when Capt. Jason Ingram assumed command of the U.S. Coast Guard Sector Key West.

Unlike the Navy and Coast Guard commands, 400 people can’t typically get security clearance to attend a ceremony at the highly classified Joint Interagency Task Force, the military installation that works with the U.S. military and with the authorities of Caribbean, South and Central American countries to fight the flow of illicit drugs into the United States and its partner nations.

JIATF-South hosted its change-of-command ceremony in the Tennessee Williams Theater at the College of the Florida Keys.

Naval personnel present the colors and parade the flags at Tennessee Williams Theater on July 15. MANDY MILES/Keys Weekly

Nearly all 500 theater seats were filled with uniformed military officials from other U.S. installations of all branches and other countries, as well as local, state and national dignitaries as well as families and supporters.

“A career cutterman, (Fedor) has nearly 12 years of sea-time with three command tours including the National Security cutter James (WMSL 754) in Charleston, S.C. … His previous operational assignments include being commanding officer of the cutter Mohawk, executive officer on the cutter Legare, commanding officer of the patrol boat Monomoy, operations officer onboard the cutter Durable, and first lieutenant onboard the cutter Dauntless,” states the JIATF-South website. The Mohawk and Dauntless have been home-ported or have spent time in Key West.

Fears had led JIATF-South since June 2020.

Mandy Miles drops stuff, breaks things and falls down more than any adult should. An award-winning writer, reporter and columnist, she's been stringing words together in Key West since 1998. "Local news is crucial," she says. "It informs and connects a community. It prompts conversation. It gets people involved, holds people accountable. The Keys Weekly takes its responsibility seriously. Our owners are raising families in Key West & Marathon. Our writers live in the communities we cover - Key West, Marathon & the Upper Keys. We respect our readers. We question our leaders. We believe in the Florida Keys community. And we like to have a good time." Mandy's married to a saintly — and handy — fishing captain, and can't imagine living anywhere else.