KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany — The officer nominated to be the next commander of U.S. Air Forces in Europe and U.S. Air Forces Africa left Europe just 14 months ago.
If confirmed by the Senate, Air Force Lt. Gen. Frank Gorenc would receive a fourth star before taking over the post, Pentagon officials announced late Tuesday in a news release.
Gorenc currently serves as the Air Staff’s assistant vice chief of staff and director in Washington, D.C., but before that he commanded the Third Air Force at Ramstein Air Base for 2 ½ years, leaving Germany in April 2012.
In a statement provided by the Air Force, Gorenc said he was “honored and deeply humbled by the nomination” to serve as the next USAFE-AFAFRICA commander and to assume the NATO duties that come with the assignment, commander of Allied Air Command and director of the Joint Air Power Competence Centre at Ramstein.
“If confirmed, it would be a privilege to return to Europe and serve our Airmen and our many partners in the region,” Gorenc said.
Gorenc would replace Gen. Philip Breedlove, who became head of U.S. European Command and NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander Europe last month after leading USAFE-AFAFRICA for less than a year. Lt. Gen. Noel T. “Tom” Jones is serving as the interim commander.
A USAFE spokeswoman said Wednesday no date has been set for Gorenc’s arrival since he has yet to be confirmed.
Gorenc was born in Ljubliana, Slovenia, which at the time was part of the former Yugoslavia. A naturalized citizen, Gorenc and his family came to the States when he was 4, he said last year at the change-of-command ceremony for his successor, current Third Air Force Commander Lt. Gen. Craig Franklin.
Gorenc earned his commission as a distinguished graduate from the U.S. Air Force Academy in 1979. An aviator by background, Gorenc is a command pilot with more than 4,500 flight hours, according to his official Air Force biography.
Early on in his Air Force career, he was a T-38A instructor pilot and flight examiner, and then an F-15C aircraft commander at Bitburg Air Base, Germany, and Langley Air Force Base, Va., according to his biography. He’s also operated the MQ-1B Predator, the C-21, and also flew helicopters..
Gorenc also has combat experience, having spent 13 months in Iraq in 2005 and 2006 when he commanded the 332nd Air Expeditionary Wing at Balad Air Base.
About two years ago the Pentagon announced plans to downsize commands in Europe to three-star billets. While the Army has made the U.S. Army Europe commander a three-star assignment, the Air Force so far is retaining a four-star commander to lead its airmen in Europe and Africa.