North Korea’s most important military figure was relieved of his post due, according to state media, to illness.

General Ri Yong Ho, 69, had known Kim Jong Il since their childhood, which analysts believe is the root for his influence on the leader who died in 2011. According to the Wall Street Journal, he was given several political titles and appointed commanding officer of the Pyongyang Defense Command.

He also held multiple titles in the ruling Workers’ party and the military. After Kim Jong Il died, he was seen as the protector of Kim Jong Un. But the new regime is making modifications of its own.

State media did not name a successor for Mr. Ri.